The season takes a change of tack for Pontypridd RFC as they resume their British & Irish Cup campaign with a long haul journey up to Rotherham. The match against the Titans will be played on Saturday 13thFebruary, kicking off at 2pm.
Ponty will in reality seek not to resume but to commence afresh a cup campaign that did not get off to the best of starts. Back in a wet and windy November, Ponty's home BIC tie against Cardiff was moved down to their opponents' ground, where they duly lost, and the subsequent home tie against Doncaster Knights then postponed.
According to team manager Richard Langmead, the British & Irish Cup still means a lot to the club, and is a target trophy for the season.
"Make no mistake we are going up to Rotherham with the aim of winning" said Langmead. "Played one lost one was not the best way to kick off the tournament, but other results since have meant that the group is still open and that we can still progress. It will be a tough task to get a result at Rotherham, but the squad will make the trip confident of putting up a good fight".
Injuries to centre Adam Thomas (knee), outside half Matthew Hutchings (ankle) and lock Chris Martenko (back) have further depleted the Ponty squad, with centre Gavin Dacey also absent, having been called up to the Wales Sevens party.
A relocation of resources sees Kristian Baller revert to full back and Matthew Nuthall to the centre. Lock Grant Harrington and wing Owen Williams make a welcome return from injury to cover on the bench. Also drafted in is scrum half Lloyd Peart on permit from Beddau.
The Pontypridd team selected to face Rotherham Titans is as follows:
15.Kristian Baller. 14.Chris Clayton. 13.Matthew Nuthall. 12.Gary Williams. 11.Lewis Williams. 10.Dean Gunter. 9.Gavin Morris.
1.Lewis Smout. 2.Huw Dowden. 3.Ryan Harford. 4.Ryan Savage. 5.Chris Dicomidis. 6.Rhys Lloyd. 7.Darren Waters. 8.Nathan Strong - cpt.
Subs: Lloyd Peart; Lee Thorne; Owen Williams; Grant Harrington; Matthew Rees; Tom Hetherington; Ken Knaggs.
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.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.