Keys young guns urged to grasp their opportunity
CROSS Keys give youth a chance for their tough trip to Llanelli tomorrow as suspensions and injuries take their toll on their excellent opening to the new campaign.
Promising Dragons Academy forwards, the two Scotts, flanker Matthews and lock Andrews, are both set to make their first starts for the club this season.
The visitors will be forced to make a number of changes for their Parc y Scarlets mission after playing a fairly settled match-day squad that’s seen them win four in a row and climb to second in the Premiership.
Keys’ indiscipline has caught up with them and they’ve been hit with three suspensions in just over a week.
Captain Rob Nash will banned for another month after his disciplinary was heard last week, the No 7 sent off for a stamp in the opening day 28-3 hammering by Pontypridd.
Lock Dan Hodge has picked up a one-match suspension for being yellow carded for the third time this season in last week’s 41-10 hammering of Neath.
And finally, loosehead prop Richard Cornock is slapped with a five-week ban for stamping on Bridgend’s Luke Morgan during Keys’ 35-15 home win over the Ravens on September 8.
Added to that, a number of important players remain on the injury list and prop Craig Gould is unavailable this weekend because of personal commitments.
But Keys are boosted by the availability of Newport Gwent Dragons tighthead prop Tim Ryan, the Irishman joining them on permit, and by scrum half Rhys Dyer, who is due to make his return to the starting XV after a knee injury.
Keys are hoping hooker Gerwyn Price (shoulder), wing Elliott Jones (hamstring) and centre Aled James (calf and hamstring) will pull through and be involved in some way.
Wales Under 20s’ Jamie Sollis, who has played much of the season on the blind and openside, is due to start at No 2.
The club’s director of rugby, Jonathan Westwood, believes this weekend gives his young players a great chance to earn their stripes against a Llanelli side who are likely to be gunning for them.
Keys did the treble over them last season – twice in the league and in the quarter-final of the British & Irish Cup.
Westwood said: “We’ll have a changed side out which will give some of our young players a great opportunity – I hope they go out there and embrace it.
“Llanelli are a strong outfit and always fancy themselves at home.
“And I know they were smarting after we did the treble over them last season, so we’re expecting a very stern challenge this weekend.”