It’s Derby Day: Part III this evening as the Scarlets take on Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park (7.35).
Ahead of the sold-out Guinness PRO14 clash we caught up with forwards coach Ioan Cunningham for his thoughts on what promises to be a mouthwatering contest between two sides stacked with talent.
Ioan, first of all you must have been delighted with the forward display against the Ospreys?
IC: “I was, we are all we are working really hard in getting those combinations working together, but the guys who don’t take the field are also putting a huge amount of work in and they deserve as much credit as the boys who put in the performances on the field.”
Sam Lousi and Tex Ratuva have both made a big impact since arriving
IC: “Both Sam and Tex have been excellent, they have bought in really well, they are enjoying the environment and also bringing their ideas from that they have learned. It is great to have them here and see them express themselves.”
What about the challenge of the Blues on Friday?
IC: “We know how tough it is going to be from what happened last year. They are a good side, well coached, but we are excited by the challenge and the prospect of playing in front of a packed crowd in the capital. The Conference standings also add a bit of extra spice on it. You can see how tight it is by the points on the league table.”
The contact area is always key when you take on the Blues, are you expecting the same again?
IC: “It has been a massive focus for us, it is going to be a big battle of the breakdown when you come up against the likes of Josh Navidi, Will Boyde, Josh Navidi and Olly Robinson. They are excellent at that type of game, we are going to have to be really hot on the contact area, how we ball carry and how we clear those rucks.
“But both sides have some awesome talent across the field. It should be a great game.”
It is also the start of three huge weeks ahead at the beginning of the New Year?
IC: “It is a massive period. After this game, we then have Toulon at Parc y Scarlets, a battle at the top of the pool, followed by another big European game against London Irish.
“But as a group we will take each week as it comes. There is confidence and enjoyment in the ranks, the boys are enjoying coming into work every week and are enjoying being challenged.
“Brad is massive on ‘how do we get better?’ That is what we are striving for, to get better every week.”