Scarlets prop Phil John was in try-scoring mood in December, scoring tries against the Dragons and the Blues (above).
It may have taken Phil John 94 games with the Scarlets to become an overnight sensation, but the powerhouse prop isn't getting carried away with his current success, even if his Sky+ doesn't back up one of his claims.
The 27-year-old loosehead has had to play second fiddle to Iestyn Thomas since making his debut with Llanelli in 1999 but with the former Ebbw Vale hardman suffering a neck injury at the beginning of December, John was thrown into the fray and responded with a string of impressive performances during the past month in the Magners League.
He powered his way over for a try against Cardiff Blues from close quarters and followed that up with a short range effort against Newport Gwent Dragons, but like all good props he has a different view of his five-pointers.
"The first one was from 80 yards and the second from 60 yards," says John as he prepares to face Connacht for his fifth start on the trot for the Scarlets - the longest run he has had with the region for over 12 months.
John has always been highly thought of in Llanelli but with the presence of Thomas he has had to bide his time to make his huge 1.90cm and 120kg frame make its mark. He has added another string to his bow by making himself available at tighthead to give Scarlets coach Nigel Davies another option in the engine room.
"I thought that by offering to play at tight-head I could further my chances of getting a game," revealed John. "I have always been an out and out loose-head but I have realised the way the game is going if you can play both sides you get more opportunities."
Not only was John impressive in the set-piece for the Scarlets, he was also prominent in the loose, charging into would-be tacklers with relish. He says he is bigger and fitter than ever before and is really enjoying his rugby.
"You need to be powerful in today's game so my conditioning has been slightly different this year - it's been based on strength and power instead of endurance. Things have gone well since the game against Ulster and I've also managed to bag a couple of tries as well," added John who is out of contract with the Scarlets at the end of the season.
Due to John's stella efforts on the park there have been calls for a call-up to the Welsh squad but at the moment he is just concentrating on getting the Scarlets up the Magners League table.
"There is plenty of rugby left between now and the end of the season and it would be nice to hold onto the jersey for the next few games. I've not even thought of Wales. I am happy keeping the jersey here and making it mine. I have always enjoyed having ball in hand and the coaches know I am a ball carrier, but as a prop you have to do the basics as well, carrying is a bonus."
The Scarlets, who are in fifth place in the league, are travelling to Connacht who are propping up the points table, but John is expecting a tough time.
"Connacht is a tough place to go. You never get an easy game there and they are extremely formidable up front. They have picked up a couple of good results lately so they will not be a pushover."
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