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."
Coach Richard Hodges is hoping Wales U20 can put a disappointing campaign behind them when they tackle Japan tomorrow as they look to finish the U20 Championship strongly to secure a good seeding for next year's tournament.
Wales U20 coach Richard Hodges is targeting three wins from three games in the Under 20 Championship after suffering defeat to England on Saturday. However, as WRU TV's Liz Jones discovers, he is concerned about the threat Japan pose tomorrow.
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards is looking for physical and mental toughness from the 47-man World Cup training squad which was revealed yesterday and he added he is looking forward to seeing which players are prepared to dig the deepest.
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.
Wales prop Nicky Smith had some good news to celebrate in the mountains of Switzerland this week as the Ospreys announced he has secured his long-term future at the Welsh region by singing a four year contract.
Cardiff Blues U18 Girls will go into Sunday's Gemau Cymru with an extra spring in their step after Welsh internationals Elinor Snowsill and Philippa Tuttiett offered some last minute tips at a training session earlier this week.
Wales U20 bounce back in the World Rugby Championships in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We hear from forwards coach Geraint Lewis and captain Ollie Griffiths, plus new WRU head of physical performance Paul Stridgeon. We talk new facilities in Usk and hear the plans of new Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson.