Dai Flanagan makes a welcome return for Pontypridd
If a live televised encounter against a table topping team who boast a 100% record in the last Welsh League match at a famous stadium entails a "big game", then Pontypridd have a big game coming up on the weekend.
Llanelli have stormed to the top of the Premiership with an impeccable return of played six, won six, and it is they who will host Pontypridd on Saturday 18th October in a game kicking off at 5:30pm due to live screening on S4C. There have been many epic encounters between the two clubs at Stradey Park, but with the Scarlets regional franchise and Llanelli RFC due to evacuate the stadium at the end of the month, this will be the last.
When all the gloss and the hype and the history is stripped away from the game, it remains a hugely important one for a Pontypridd side seeking a first away win in the league this season.
In the build up to the big clash, Ponty coach Paul John remains objective about his team's aspirations of success. "Going away to face a Llanelli team with a 100% success in the league so far is a difficult task" said John "but from our point of view we have nothing to lose. The pressure will be on Llanelli to keep up that record.
"We need to take our home form with us on the bus from Sardis Road, which we haven't done so far this season. If we play to our potential we can achieve a result, and having won and drawn at Stradey last season, the boys know that they have the ability to succeed".
The latest injury victim in the Ponty camp is winger Chris Clayton, with a suspected minor fracture of the wrist. He joins outside half Gareth McCarthy (hamstring) scrum halves Rhys Downes (knee) and Gavin Morris (blood clot) and prop Sam Hobbs (knee) on the sick list.
Ponty welcome back Blues pair, winger Aled Brew and outside half Dai Flanagan, with Matthew Hutchings slotting in at full back and Kristian Baller continuing at scrum half.
Newly recruited tight head prop Pat Palmer makes his debut for Ponty, with Rhys Williams back in at hooker and Rhys Lloyd at blind side flanker.
Pontypridd: 15.Matt Hutchings. 14.Aled Brew. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Adam Thomas. 11.Lewis Williams. 10.Dai Flanagan. 9.Kristian Baller; 1.Stuart Williams. 2.Rhys Williams. 3.Pat Palmer. 4.Grant Harrington. 5.Chris Dicomidis. 6.Rhys Lloyd. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Nathan Strong (capt).
Subs: Lawrence Price; Mike Davies; Andrew Jenkins; Ryan Harford; Huw Dowden; Ryan Savage; Geraint Lewis.
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.