Rob McCusker wants the Scarlets to put a run of performances together next term
Scarlets skipper Rob McCusker reckons greater consistency is the key to the region ending their decade-long trophy drought.
It has been 10 years since the West Walians battled past Ulster 23-16 at Stradey Park to become the first Welsh region to win the Celtic league. Since then the trophy cabinet at Parc Y Scarlets has remained unopened, but skipper McCusker is hoping to clinch a piece of silverware next year.
"Consistency has been our downfall - not being able to back up a decent performance with another one. That's what we are working on, to hit a performance level and stay there," said McCusker.
"You have to do very well if you want to get into a final. We'd like to think we'd be there or thereabouts, that's what we try to drive towards when we go into work every day. But it is getting more competitive each season, in Europe and in the PRO12. Even the Amlin Challenge Cup is a really tough competition right to the end."
The Scarlets are losing Jonathan Davies to Clermont Auvergne but are bringing Regan King back to the region from France, while Wales wing Harry Robinson will increase their firepower out wide.
They have also negotiated a fresh deal with Davies' brother Jamie, a highly-rated flanker, and have re-signed prop Peter Edwards and given fellow front rower Wyn Jones a full-time contract.
"We've recruited in a couple of areas where we might have been lacking over the past couple of years, so I think we're building a decent team," added McCusker, who saw the Scarlets finish sixth in this season's RaboDirect PRO12 having reached the final four the previous year.
"We have a new forwards coach as well (Wayne Pivac). If we can keep building on what we've done under Danny (Wilson) over the past couple of years, we won't be far off.
"We can go so far, but then you come up against the likes of Clermont Auvergne in Europe and they are able to bring experienced internationals off the bench, which makes a difference. We have played them over the past couple of years and done okay for 60 minutes, but then you see (Aurélien) Rougerie going off and Benson Stanley coming on and it can get tough. But we are building and we are all determined to push on."
Defence coach Shaun Edwards believes Saturday's clash against England - the 'form team in world rugby' - poses a huge challenge for his side but he is confident, with Wales beginning to show the defensive qualities displayed in the last two World Cups,
At the official launch of this season's RBS 6 Nations at a noisy location in London this morning, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones reveals he is personally proud to be in the Wales team and is already looking forward to the opening clash against Italy which is a 'tough ask'.
It was a double celebration for Wales and Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb when he called at the home of Welsh rugby to help commemorate the first anniversary of Principality Stadium and his return to fitness this weekend ahead of the RBS 6 Nations.