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Scarlets seeking Italian redemption

Guinness PRO12 Editor

25 Nov 2010

Jonathan Davies insists Magners League high flyers the Scarlets won’t be taking anything for granted when they travel to Italy to face Aironi this weekend.

The Welsh region are enjoying a fine start to the season and currently sit second in the standings but their most recent experience on Italian soil was a disappointing one.

Davies and co were beaten by Benetton Treviso on the opening day of the season as the newcomers announced their Magners League arrival in some style.

The Scarlets have since disposed of Aironi in a convincing manner back in Llanelli – with Davies scoring a spectacular hat-trick in a six-try win – but the Wales centre is adamant that his team-mates are expecting a huge battle at the Stadio Zaffanella this Sunday.

"Lessons will definitely have been learnt from the Treviso game,” said Davies, who is this season’s Magners League Ambassador for the Scarlets but is currently sidelined with an ankle injury.

"We were maybe caught a bit cold against Treviso so going out there again to face Aironi is something a lot of the boys have now experienced and can prepare for a lot better. We now know what it’s all about.

"We put a fair amount of points on Aironi in September and it was quite comfortable in the end when we played them at ours but we know that a team at home is a different animal. They’ll get their home crowd behind them and they’ll be ready for a bit of revenge.

"We’ll probably have to weather the storm to start with. We need to go in there, play some rugby and we need to get a result out there to keep building on our place in the league.”

Davies has been impressed with what he’s seen so far from the Italian newboys in their debut season in the Magners League.

Aironi may be without a win but they’ve already proved their worth despite being an entirely new entity, while Treviso have produced some outstanding results in their first eight league matches.

And like so many of his fellow players and coaches, Davies is convinced that the decision to extend the Magners League family has been a good one.

"The two Italian teams have definitely been a good addition to the league. They’ve recruited well,” added Davies.

"Some of the results Treviso have had have been good to see because we all want competition in the league – we don’t want a soft touch at all.

"Aironi are a really dogged team. They’re very physical and playing them is a going to be a really tough fixture, too.

"It’s great to see them both involved in the tournament – they’ve both been in a terrific addition to the competition."


The Scarlets picked up maximum points against Aironi in September

That addition has resulted in the regular Magners League season being extended from 18 to 22 matches, with games now being played during the November autumn international period and the 2011 Six Nations.

Again, it’s a move that has been readily accepted by the players, especially those pushing for first-team action who can sometimes have their paths blocked by international stars.

Whereas last season the break for international rugby meant the non-Test players would be left largely inactive while their colleagues were representing their countries, this time it’s a completely different story.

It’s good news for the vast majority of Magners League players and even better news for the Scarlets who are keen to build on their promising start to the new campaign.

“Normally around this period there’s not much happening in the league because of the internationals but it’s good that the boys can now keep building on the momentum we’ve created over the last two months.

"We want to keep the ball rolling and hopefully pick up some more good results. We’ve got some tough fixtures but the boys are looking forward to playing more regularly, week in, week out.

"Some players are fortunate to be selected for their countries and would always play regularly in that international period, but the boys at the club could be left their twiddling their thumbs and wanting to be out on the field. It’s our job at the end of the day and playing is what we want to be doing.

"Obviously, you have to have a stronger squad and it puts more pressure on that squad but I think that’s a good thing. We’re getting regular fixtures in and it’s not so stop start. Teams can get momentum and a bit more cohesion. The boys here at the Scarlets don’t want to stop playing as it’s a good place to be at the moment.”