Three to watch: Scarlets

Charlie Peat
30 July 2018

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Scarlets fell just short of defending their Guinness PRO14 title last season as they lost a thrilling final to Leinster.

The Welsh region went down 40-32 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin despite a classy hat-trick from Johnny McNicholl.

Now, in Wayne Pivac’s final campaign before he takes over as Wales coach, the Scarlets will be vying to get back to the final of the Guinness PRO14 and we take a look at who could fire them back to next season’s showpiece event in Glasgow.

Clayton Blommetjies

The pace and the power of Clayton Blommetjies will come as no surprise to fans of Guinness PRO14 following his excellence for Toyota Cheetahs last season.

The 27-year-old made an instant impact in his maiden Guinness PRO14 campaign, dotting down six times including a try against Scarlets in his final match for the Cheetahs.

Blommetjies was an integral part of the Cheetahs side that finished third in Conference A and his fireworks with ball in hand could be the spark to send Scarlets all the way next season.

The Welsh side are hardly short of options at the back with Leigh Halfpenny having thrived in his debut campaign and McNicholl equally adept at full-back and on the wing.

However the arrival of Blommetjies can only help the free-flowing Scarlets expand their attacking game further with his electric pace and counter-attacking ability.

Blade Thomson

With the likes of Tadhg Beirne and Scotland captain John Barclay departing the Llanelli-based region, Pivac was keen to bring in high class talent in the forwards.

And he’s done just that with the acquisition of Blade Thomson from New Zealand side the Hurricanes.

The 27-year-old has won four caps for the Maori All Blacks and will add plenty of power and ferocity to the Scarlets pack.

Thomson may have missed a large part of the 2017 season due to reconstruction surgery on his shoulder but Pivac has already talked up his tenacious attitude.

The head coach said: “He is a very athletic, no-nonsense player with a big engine who will be an effective ball carrier both in the wide channels as well as in the middle of the park.

“Blade is highly regarded in New Zealand. An untimely injury impacted on his rugby in the last six months but he’s certainly a physical player who possesses the skillset to play the Scarlets way.”

Ryan Elias

Ryan Elias

Unlike the other two players mentioned, Ryan Elias is not a new signing, but the hooker could have an even bigger role this season.

Of course he has plenty of competition in the Scarlets pack with club captain and Wales hooker Ken Owens first choice in the pecking order but the 23-year-old has improved every season so far.

It’s has been a fine summer for Elias who scored a match-winning try against South Africa in Washington DC this June as he added to the caps he earned on last year’s Wales tour to the Pacific Islands.

Elias also started in the 30-12 victory in Argentina and with five international caps already to his name, the 23-year-old has an exciting future ahead of him at Scarlets.

Dynamic around the park, Elias will be keen to show that he is more than just a back-up for Owens and keep his place in the Wales set-up for the long haul.

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