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."
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
Dodgy tattoos, carthorses, Avatar and soft chins are revealed by Wales Sevens players Tom Williams and Sam Cross as they profile the Wales Sevens squad taking part in Hong Kong this weekend in the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.