(Main) (Front head Left to Right) Rob Appleyard with Gareth Jenkins, (Back row Left to Right director of rugby Roy James and assistant coach Lyndon Lewis.
Scarlets head of regional development and recruitment Gareth Jenkins and Llandovery head coach Rob Appleyard have spokem to the WRU podcast about their a common aim - to raise the standard of Principality Premiership rugby within the Scarlets region
Part of Jenkins' new role is to work with the semi-professional and community clubs in the Scarlets region to create a suitable environment for the development of potential future Scarlets players - while Rob Appleyard, a WRU academy skills coach within in the Scarlets region and Wales Under 20 assistant coach for the past season, hopes to bring elite performance methods and a self-belief to Llandovery RFC.
Jenkins welcomes the WRU's decision to allow unlimited regional players to be permitted down to Premiership clubs when not represented the region, a move he claims will increase the intensity and standard of the league.
Speaking on the WRU website's weekly podcast he said: "We welcome the innovative changes the WRU has made to the Premiership instigated by the Premiership review this year, especially the way that any regional player not featuring in the match 22 is now available to play for our Premiership sides. That is going to make an enormous impact and the standard of the league should automatically improve.
"We must make sure regional players have the right attitude to appearing for these clubs, they must have a professional approach, but if they do that it's going to be a very exciting competition.
"We will adopt a fluid approach to drafting regional players into Premiership sides, we will meet regularly within the Scarlets regional set-up and with the Premiership clubs to decide who needs rugby, where and when."
Jenkins recognises the need for top quality coaches to help raise the standard and benefit young players in Wales.
"You have to have the very best coaches to develop players and the WRU have produced a lot of good quality coaches in recent years that work within its organisation. When those professionals start working in the coaching environment, the benefits are enormous. They have the skill sets, the management techniques, identification qualities and those are the types of people that are vital to raising the bar. Rob Appleyard is one of those people - he is a skills coach within our region and I've no doubt Rob will do a great job."
However, Jenkins admits he is looking for improvement from the two Premiership sides in the region if they are to be key to the region's development and recruitment strategy.
"The game is growing in our region, there is no doubt about that. There are now more youth sides in the area than ever before and we have six Division One clubs which is encouraging. However, both Llanelli and Llandovery would admit that their performances have been disappointing in the last couple of years and we need a vibrant semi-professional tier in the region in order to give our academy players the opportunity to develop to their potential.
"The challenge to the clubs is to improve, to win more matches and to be more consistent. Both environments are aware of that and we have had great support from both parties. If they achieve that challenge, our academy players will benefit from being able to develop in those teams. We are well aware that we have too many non-Welsh players within the region at the moment and our development is key to changing that. I enjoy nothing better than a challenge and I'm looking forward to being part of something exciting going forward."
Appleyard heads up a new-look coaching team at 2007 Konica Minolta Cup champions Llandovery. Roy James has been appointed Director of rugby, while Lyndon Lewis and Richard Hardy continue as the club's assistant coach and fitness coach respectively.
Appleyard, who helped Wales reach the semi-finals of the inaugural Junior World Championship in June as assistant coach to Patrick Horgan, says he wants to bring some much needed self-belief to the Carmarthenshire side this season, along with some of the methods he uses in his day job as academy skills coach.
"The facilities at Llandovery are exemplary so we want to lift the standards on the field to match those.
"One of my challenges is to get the players to believe that they can win at home and away. They showed at the end of the 2007 Konica Minolta Cup that they have a tough mental edge but I think we can work on that team spirit and self-belief to pick up some extra match points in the last minutes of League matches.
"Everyone wants to finish in the top half of the table. We want to instil a different environment at Llandovery to enable players to train and play at the best of their ability so that the performances come on a Saturday.
"We need to look at our basic skills in order to improve our performances and I feel I can bring some technical background to that aspect of training.
"I want to create an environment where the regional players that come into the set-up see that we have a professional outfit on and off the field so that they enjoy the experience and look forward to the next time."
In this weeks Welsh Rugby Union Podcast we also hear from hear from Cardiff Blues head coach Dai Young reflects on a successful open training session in Pontypridd and looks ahead to the new season, while Pontypridd coach Paul John looks at the new law changes. Finally former Wales captain Ieuan Evans explains why he has got on board with efforts to raise a million pounds to help treat service personnel injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Listen to the podcast by clicking here
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.