“We want to be playing against the best in the top competition in Europe”

11 May 2019
“We want to be playing against the best in the top competition in Europe”

Ken Owens has underlined the Scarlets' determination to maintain their proud history at the top table of European rugby.

In 24 years of continental competition, the Scarlets have always played in the highest tier, reaching the semi-finals on four occasions.

The West Walians face a play-off to decide whether they will be there again in 2019-20, with a date and kick-off time set to be confirmed following Saturday’s Champions Cup final between Leinster and Saracens at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

“Obviously, we are disappointed with how the season has gone and not having qualified automatically," said Owens. "Thankfully, we have a second chance and the boys are putting in a lot of graft and preparing as well as we can for this game.

Ken Owens celebrates a memorable European victory in Bath last season

“As players we want to be playing against the best in the top competition.

“Historically, the region’s proudest days and biggest games have generally been in Europe. We have had a couple ourselves over the last two or three seasons. It is good to get that atmosphere and buzz around European time. It will be great to keep that going next season.

“This season, we were competitive right through. We were disappointed to only get that one result, but there were big occasions, home against Racing and also away in Paris. For the players to experience that fantastic stadium and put in a big shift was great for them - it is something we have to make sure we are involved in over the coming years.”

A Saracens victory in Newcastle would confirm a clash with local rivals Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, May 18.

“If that were to happen, it is a local derby against our rivals and they are always great occasions that bring the best out of both teams.” added Owens, who was this week named the Scarlets' coaches and fans player of the season.

“Sometimes it can be attritional, but it is something we enjoy. We have had two good games against them already this season.

“It will be a huge test and one we are looking forward to.

“Hopefully, we can get plenty of Scarlets fans heading across the Loughor and we can go across there and get a scalp.”