Huw S Thomas looks at the new season
By Bryan Weaver | 07/08/2017
What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The Drovers have announced three new signings for the season ahead – lock Jack Jones, utility back Lee Williams and hooker Ricky Guest.
Jones, the son of former Neath and Swansea back row Robin Jones and grandson of former 21 caps Wales lock Brian Thomas has had experience with Neath, Swansea, Italian club Rovigo and Llanelli. A former Llandovery College, Wales U18 captain and Swansea captain, Jones is still only 24 years of age and comes to Church Bank from English National One club Darlington Mowden. He will fill the space left by the semi-retirement of Bryn Griffiths but can also play in the back row.
Lee Williams – a former professional Scarlet - joins from local rivals Carmarthen Quins and is arguably the most versatile player in the Premiership, comfortable at scrum half, full back and wing. The diminutive 30 year old was a major part of the Wales 7s squad for a number of years on the HSBC World Sevens Series and will add verve and pace to an already exciting Llandovery back division.
Hooker Ricky Guest has turned out for Aberavon, Llanelli and latterly Swansea and will add strength, solidity and a wealth of experience to the front row.
Coach Euros Evans, conscious of the demands of a very long season ahead, of 29 Premiership games plus Welsh Cup games, was well pleased with the signings.
“It was essential that we added to our squad to ensure we have the depth needed to compete in both league and cup” said Evans. “It’s always a challenge to get the balance right between experience and development.”
“We take seriously our role and commitment to bring on young players for both the Scarlets and Wales U20 but it is also essential for those players to have experience around them to help them improve,” explained Evans.
In addition, Scarlets academy players wing Corey Baldwin, prop Scott Jenkins, back row Lewis Ellis-Jones and full back Tomi Lewis will continue their development with the Drovers.
Joining them will be Wales U18 prop Llyr Green who along with Lewis and Ellis-Jones is touring South Africa with Wales U18 this summer.
Richard Brooks will lead the side from No 8 with scrum half Lee Rees as vice-captain with the coaching in the safest of hands in Evans, backs coach Simon Davies and defence coach Gareth Potter.
Also continuing are the backroom staff of team manager Andrew Jones, conditioning coach Lloyd Phillips, physiotherapist Dave Graham-Woollard and long serving kitman aka psychophysicist Joc Walters
The season will start on Saturday August 26 with a home game against Welsh Cup champions Rugby Gogledd Cymru, one of 29 league games scheduled for the newly revamped Premiership.
This year the Premiership is divided initially into two conferences of eight teams apiece - West and East – with the West based Drovers playing home and away games against Llanelli, Carmarthen Quins, Neath, Swansea, Aberavon, Bridgend and RGC.
In the second half of the season each club will play the other 15 teams either at Home or Away.
For the second half, each club will start with points in the bank, reflecting how they have done in the first half of the season - the winners of the West and East leagues will begin the second half of the season with eight points, the clubs in second place will carry seven points into the 16-team league, down to the eighth placed clubs who will carry one point.
Welsh Cup games - dependent on progress - are scheduled for Jan 1 2018, Jan 27, March 3, April 7 and April 28.
English clubs Esher and Cinderford will play pre-season friendlies at Church Bank
Esher who are in National One alongside the likes of Rosslyn Park, Coventry and Blackheath are the visitors on August 12 whilst Cinderford who will be playing in National Two South along with Clifton, Redruth and Barnstaple turn up at Church bank on August 19