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."
Robin McBryde and son Billy are set to represent Wales on either side of the globe over the coming weeks with Robin travelling to New Zealand as Wales assistant coach and Billy competing at the World Rugby U20 Championship (Manchester, June 7-25). WRU TV caught up with the pair and captured a unique perspective into the factors that produce such a high-achieving rugby family.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde is predicting a tough battle against England on Sunday despite the fact they may not be considered to be at full strength. Players will be out to impress Eddie Jones which makes England a dangerous proposition, he says.
Forwards coach Robyn McBryde says tomorrow's RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy gives Wales an opportunity to finish second in the tournament after having the wind knocked from their sails last week against England.
Nigel Owens will take charge of his 71st Test match this weekend and Welsh Rugby Union head of referees Nigel Whitehouse has taken the opportunity to hail the achievements of world rugby's most experienced man-in-the-middle.