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."
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series