Pontypridd RFC will kick off their 2009 - 2010 Principality Premiership campaign with a home tie against the Drovers of Llandovery, the game on Saturday 29th August kicking off at 2:30pm.
Expectations are high at Ponty as a new season gets under way, but the team will have to go out full tilt to make the most of their home advantage against opponents who have always been difficult to overcome.
A heavy defeat away at Llandovery and a cliff hanger of a draw at home last season meant that the Drovers were the only team that Ponty failed to beat during the course of the campaign. The drawn game at Sardis in early May was crucial to Llandovery in their battle to avoid relegation.
There are injuries to report amongst the Ponty squad, with centre Gavin Dacey struggling to overcome a calf strain, scrum half Gavin Morris with knee ligament damage, prop Stuart Williams with back problems and hookers Tom Hetherington and Rhys Williams with ankle and rib damage respectively.
The good news for Pontpriddis that outside half Aaron Bramwell has trained hard with no reaction to his recent ankle injury, with flanker Wayne O'Connor also reporting in fit from his shoulder strain.
Adam Thomas steps straight into the Ponty line-up, not long returned from a stint playing in New Zealand, with the Blues prop pairing of Sam Hobbs and Pat Palmer shoring up the home scrum.
The Pontypridd team selected to face Llandovery is as follows:
15.Matthew Nuthall. 14.Chris Clayton. 13.Adam Thomas. 12.Dafydd Lockyer. 11.Lewis Williams. 10.Aaron Bramwell. 9.Rhys Downes.1.Sam Hobbs. 2.Huw Dowden. 3.Pat Palmer. 4.Ryan Savage. 5.Chris Dicomidis. 6.Kristian Dacey. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Nathan Strong - cpt.
Subs: Kristian Baller; Dean Gunter; Lee Thorne; Ryan Harford; Rhys Lloyd; Chris Martenko; John Williams.
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.