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."
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.