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Davies hails new crop of Scarlets youngsters

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Nov 2011

The time for a cigar and a suitably comfortable armchair is far from upon Nigel Davies – but after this week’s Wales squad announcement the Scarlets boss admits he allowed himself a moment of self-congratulation.



Just a moment though as Davies is well aware they are only part of the way to fulfilling the region's the long-term goals.

But the call-ups for uncapped pairing Rhodri Jones and Liam Williams are another little win for the 46-year-old and his two and a half years in charge at the region.

Jones, a 19-year-old prop and Williams, 20, who plies his trade in the back three have been chosen to be part of Warren Gatland’s first post-World Cup squad on the back of their impressive RaboDirect PRO12 campaigns.

Their selection – and youth – is no fluke with the duo following hot on the heels of arguably Wales’ star performers in New Zealand Rhys Priestland and George North.

And while admitting the secret behind his blueprint for success is tricky to boil down into a few phrases Davies believes the latest pair off the Parc y Scarlets assembly line are some of the most exciting yet.

“The strategy and the ethos we have been working on is difficult to simplify but there are some core values and principles that we work towards and the players buy into,” said Davies.

“We could have gone down the route where you buy in ready-made players and don’t do much coaching but we decided to go down the route of developing players.

“It is nice to reflect on how we are doing with the guys getting called up this week but there is certainly no gloating.

“It is a sort of pride because we have been working hard but we have still got to keep on working hard. 

“Liam and Rhodri are both very good rugby players. Talent identification is crucial to us. 

“Liam came to us quite late and we could see that he was talented. He’s very physical, has a high skill set and he reminds me of JPR Williams in terms of his bravery. 

“For Rhodri, at 19 he is amazing for a front row forward. He’s very difficult to deal with for the opposition because he is superb around the park.”

Another Scarlets youngster Scott Williams also impressed in New Zealand – most notably with his hat-trick against Namibia.

And despite their heroics on the other side of the world Davies admits he has been highly impressed with their attitude on their return to the welsh region.

“They have been great,” added Davies – who gave all three a starting berth in the 28-23 Heineken Cup win at Northampton last weekend.

“The club has clear sets of values and one of those is humility and they have been fantastic since they came back.  The World Cup was obviously a fantastic experience for them but the good thing is they have come back to a team that is playing well.”

And while the current crop are winning plaudits left, right and centre Davies admitted the excitement around the Parc y Scarlets is also building around yet more youngsters coming through.

“I am not going to name any names at this moment in time but we are pretty pleased with some more talent that we have got coming through,” he added.

Gatland, Wales and the rest of the RaboDirect PRO12 take note.