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Priestland wants patience as Scarlets seek silverware

Guinness PRO12 Editor

13 Apr 2012

Rhys Priestland knows the Scarlets must rain down tries if they want to reach the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs in May but accepts that a game plan based on crossing the white line will leave them high and dry.


The Scarlets have not finished in the top four of the Celtic League since 2007 and currently lie sixth in the league table, five points off Glasgow in the final play-off spot.

Their 15-11 loss to Brive in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final last weekend left only one way to bring silverware to Llanelli this year: win the RaboDirect PRO12 title.

Priestland is revelling in his breakthrough season on the international stage and with a Scarlets squad motivated to end Stephen Jones’ second stint with club on a suitable high, he believes anything is possible.

“After last weekend we all feel we let a chance go of winning some silverware so we’re going to have to go out and give it our best in the next three games,” said Priestland.

“We know if we lose one game it’s game over so it starts this weekend against Aironi and hopefully we’ll put in a performance and score some tries.

“We’ve come unstuck in the past before when we we’ve gone in having to score four tries and it doesn’t happen because as a team you get pretty loose.

“We are at our best when we play the basics well and run hard and get over the gain line so we’ll have to find that balance but if we go out there to chuck the ball around we’ll come unstuck.

“At this point we’re not underestimating anyone and it’s a case of trying to get back on that field as we got it drastically wrong at the weekend.”

Priestland was only fit enough for 28 minutes off the bench against Brive but in the Scarlets’ remaining games against Aironi, Munster and the Blues the 25-year-old is pining for a few more moments on the field with his mentor Jones.

Having arrived at the Scarlets as a fresh-faced Llandeilo RFC product Jones took the 18-year-old Priestland under his wing and his tutelage has helped Priestland win 15 international caps.

Priestland started all five games at fly-half earlier this year as Wales achieved a third Grand Slam in eight attempts and admitted that he wouldn’t be the player he is now without Jones’ support over the last seven years.

“I am not sure what’s left to say about Stephen,” said Priestland.

“He’s always demanded excellence especially at the Scarlets and also with Wales.

“It’s not in his way to pull you down he just wants everyone to get better and he’s a real passionate Scarlet and I think his influence has really rubbed off on the players over the years.

“He’s had a major influence in the development of not just me but all the youngsters and I think a lot of the Scarlets players who are in the Wales squad now – he’s played a big part in that.

“He plays a big part off the field, he’s always upbeat and he’s almost like a 21-year-old and he has a laugh with the boys and it’s really refreshing that someone who’s won as much as him can get on so well with someone who’s just come out of the academy and I think that typifies what the Scarlets is all about really.”