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Owens: No good time to face Leinster
6 September 2013 10:21am
Ken Owens is looking forward to tonight's clash with reigning champions Leinster.
Ken Owens admits there is no good time to face Leinster as the Scarlets kick-off their season against the reigning RaboDirect Pro12 champions.
But Scarlets hooker Owens insists you can never underestimate the European heavyweights.
"There's never a good time to play Leinster," said Owens.
"They're a quality outfit and you just have to look at the strength in depth they have.
"They may have a new coaching staff but their core team has been there for a long time and I don't expect to see many changes.
"We are playing the champions first up and it is a good test to see where we are as we look to put as many points on the board and look to qualify for the play-offs."
And Owens hopes to begin his challenge for the Wales number two jersey in the Parc y Scarlets clash.
The 26-year-old ousted Matthew Rees as the Scarlets' first choice hooker last season, with the former Wales skipper moving to Cardiff Blues in the summer.
But he faces fierce competition from the Ospreys' Lions ace Richard Hibbard.
"It's a slightly different challenge for me this season because I have always been chasing someone down," said Owens.
You will do whatever you are asked to do in any environment but you always want to start and be that first-choice.
"Richard was excellent in Australia. He was the form hooker in Wales all last season after starting the campaign so well.
"I was chuffed for him that he had such a great Lions tour because the work he put in proved a lot of people wrong.
"Starting that last Test he showed what he could do and his carrying and tackle ability brought something different which they needed.
"We get on very well but he knows I will keep working hard and chasing him down."
The last time Owens pulled on a Scarlets' jersey he left the pitch upon a stretcher having suffered a neck injury in the Pro12 play-off defeat to Ulster.
He missed Wales' summer tour to Japan as a consequence but was greatful not to suffer any serious damage and is relishing the new season.
"The injury is fine and luckily it was nothing affected from my previous neck problems," added Owens.
"It perhaps took longer than I thought because initially I thought it would be about four to six weeks.
"It took three months before it was all sorted, but it feels good and I came through a pre-season hard game against Gloucester.
"The summer was a source of frustration because I was looking forward to going on the summer tour of Japan.
"But it was also nice to have time to recover and I got some good conditioning work in and am feeling ready for the season."
Rhys Priestland returns for the Scarlets, while Steve Shingler also starts following his move from London Irish. But there is no place for Jonathan Davies following his heroics in Australia.
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