THE Scarlets' pre-season training programme has been bolstered by the arrival of Wales international prop Rhys Thomas.
After his first training session with his new teammates, the former Newport Gwent Dragons prop said: "All the boys have been very good to me. Fortunately, I knew most of them before I arrived due to playing against them over the years and being involved with the Wales squad.
"All the way through the Scarlets squad there are exciting players, including the boys coming back from the Lions tour and the boys who've been away with Wales.
"Hopefully, I'll bring an extra physical edge to the team, some dynamism in the loose and new strength in the scrum. The main reasons I've joined the Scarlets include the fact that being here gives me a chance to play regularly in a good team, to improve my own game and hopefully to win more Wales caps.
"The stadium's a great facility - it's beautiful to look at even when you're just driving in. The pitch is outstanding, the gym's brilliant and the indoor training barn is great to have because of Wales's variable weather."
The 19st 11lb 26-year-old tight-head played more than 120 games for the Dragons following his debut around six years ago. Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies said: "Rhys is determined to progress as a Heineken Cup and international player so we can expect big things of him in 2009-10 and beyond.
"He adds strength and skill to our pack and, importantly, adds to our growing pool of Welsh talent. His workrate and power will make him a favourite with Scarlets supporters.
"We're firming up the look of the squad with plenty for supporters to look forward to. Adding Rhys to our line-up is a good move."
Thomas, a member of Warren Gatland's 2009 RBS Nations squad, said: "The Scarlets have a strong tradition of being successful and they have a group of talented players and coaches. I've worked with Nigel Davies before, when he was part of the Wales set-up, and I'm greatly looking forward to working with him again on a daily basis.
"It's my aim to help get the Scarlets back into the later stages of the Heineken Cup and perhaps, to winning the Magners League."
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.