Peter Edwards is enjoying rugby life in the Championship.
A late starter to rugby, London Welsh prop Peter Edwards was more adept with a cricket ball in his hand than the oval shaped kind, until he joined his local pub team, Bishops Castle & Onny Valley when he was 19.
"The first time I turned up I was told to go there (tighthead) and just push, and that's where I've stayed," said Edwards.
From there he moved to Newtown and then on to North Wales, and it was during his season with the latter that he made an impression playing against a Scarlets Select team. He was subsequently asked to join Llanelli and later moved on to Llandovery.
"My old coach at Bishops Castle used to say 'you're a good player' and when he moved to Newtown he asked if I'd come and play there," he said. "I gave it a go and then got picked up by North Wales. We used to play against the regions, but I didn't think much about playing against the Scarlets Select team, it was just another game. And then it all kicked off from there.
"There wasn't much rugby up in Shropshire so I played cricket for a lot of my younger years. I was a bit of an all rounder - six or out. I'd score quick runs or I'd get out pretty quickly. I used to love rugby but my school didn't play much rugby - it was all football," said Edwards, who was 26 when he got picked up by Llanelli.
He would eventually force his way into the Scarlets squad in 2010 and would spend the next three seasons at the region.
"Obviously I wanted to push on and make it through to the Scarlets team. It's tough and you've got to take your chance when you're given it, but I really enjoyed it," he said.
The highlight of his time with the Scarlets was playing Heineken Cup rugby, and the Scarlets' hard fought 16-13 away win in Castres in January 2012.
"When we went out there no one gave us much of a shot, but we ended up taking a scalp away from home in France, which not many people do," said Edwards.
"The physicality and the pace of the Heineken Cup game is phenomenal and travelling over to France is awesome, they love their rugby. Playing against people you've watched on tv, internationals, you have to pinch yourself sometimes."
Justin Burnell then brought him to London Welsh last summer. The challenge of the Championship is one that has surprised Edwards, but it's also one that he's enjoyed.
"Before I came to the Championship I was speaking to a few people and they said it was a hard league, and it hasn't disappointed," he said. "The physicality is massive; you've got a lot of big guys playing and they run hard and straight. I didn't think it would be this tough, but it's a really good hard fought league and on the day anyone can turn up. It's a tough league week in, week out."
Saturday is another case in point as Nottingham visit Old Deer Park with Welsh eager to bounce back from their 25-21 defeat to Bristol and end the winning season on a winning note.
"You can't fault the character of the boys to come back in the last 15 minutes - we never gave up," said Edwards. "We put too much pressure on ourselves, especially in the first half. The scrum was a bit dodgy and we allowed them to keep kicking to the corner and keep putting pressure on us. We didn't help ourselves.
"To go in at the break after all of that pressure against us just 5-0 down was really good. Taking the positives out of it, we'd taken all they could throw at us and we were only 5-0 down.
"In the second, though, it just took its toll a bit. We missed a few tackles and they scored a couple of tries, but then we came back into the game and finished really strong."
It was a step up in tempo and intensity and a glimpse into what Welsh can expect in the play-offs.
"Bristol like to play with tempo, they don't kick goals, so they either tap and go or kick to the corner," added Edwards. "They were looking to move the ball wide all of the time and it was really quick. We perhaps couldn't do the work we'd normally do in the breakdown because it was so quick.
"It probably was a step up in the speed of the game, because we couldn't control the breakdown. Competing hard at the breakdown has been a big part of our season, and we weren't able to do that."
The Exiles, though, can take positives from their strong finish, which saw them rack up three tries in the last ten minutes to secure a losing bonus point.
"We just started playing a little bit. We got our hands on the ball and showed what we can do," added Edwards.
"The majority of the game we didn't have any ball - we were defending. As soon as we got the ball and started going through our plays we started making inroads. When we play the semi-final we've got to make sure we do all of that."
Welsh now round off the regular season against Nottingham at Old Deer Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) eager to get back to winning ways.
"It's massive; we want to carry momentum into the play-offs. We're treating Nottingham like any other league game - we want to win it and we want to finish second," said Edwards.
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Go to www.wru.co.uk/tryourgame for more information
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