We’ve rounded all the key points from Matt Sheratt’s press conference at Llandarcy on Tuesday, in advance of the BIG ONE on Saturday, the derby clash against the Scarlets, at the Liberty Stadium (3pm
Here’s what he had to say about…
Health of Squad:
- Dan Lydiate has trained this week. Obviously, see if he gets through the week first but he is in contention for the weekend, so that’s good news.
- The derby is usually a tight affair so as much experience as you can get on the pitch is really useful.
- Dan had a really good start to the season. He played a fantastic game for Wales so its great to have him back in contention, but its also an area of strength because Sam Cross has been excellent, so it’s a good addition to the mix.
- I’m not 100% sure of the exact diagnosis of what Nicky Smith has done, but he’ll be out for a couple of weeks.
- This time of year, probably more so for the teams who are in the Champion’s Cup, there’s five, six, seven games of international intensity rugby so there’s always going to be bumps and bruises, but we are pretty happy with where we are at the moment.
- Scarlets are the favourites because for the last two seasons they have been in the Guinness PRO14 final, in the Heineken Cup semi-final and for the last four occasions against us they have managed to win. They are clear favourites, but it’s at the Liberty and we’re really looking forward to it.
- We’ve got a good eight-day break which allows us to have Christmas Day and Boxing Day off. We’ve got experienced internationals here, they know how to prepare and what’s best for their bodies.
- A lot of them have young children, so it’s fantastic that they can have Christmas Day and Boxing day which is unusual in this league. It’s worked out pretty well for us.
- As long as they play well, they can eat what they want in my opinion.
Preparation for the Scarlets Game:
- We prepare as we would normally. It’s very tempting, when there is what you perceive to be bigger games, to get more excited as a coach as well. Monday you are pretty excited and then by Thursday and Friday you are pretty drained – I think players are the same as well. There’s a real fine balance.
- I spoke to the backs today about how much prep you need to do, but also they need to be in the tunnel at the Liberty bouncing to get out and play. We’ve got to, emotionally, think about that on Saturday and just prepare, as well as we can, a game plan to beat the Scarlets
- You’d like to think that playing at home would give you an extra edge, but I’m sure they’ll bring a decent travelling support as well because of how close the two regions are. Hopefully, if it a tight game, that home advantage will pull us through.
- The fact that players are playing against guys that could potentially be their rivals for international places adds an extra edge, especially this season as there is probably a glittering prize at the end of it in terms of a World Cup in Japan. There are match-ups all over the field in terms of selection for Wales because in the last campaign Ospreys and Scarlets were the most represented regions.
- The players know each other, they are very familiar with how they play and with individuals in the team.
- Positioning of league tables almost goes out the window in Derbies. I’ve certainly not coached in a Derby where it goes to form, its always pretty tight, especially early on, where there is a lot of emotion on the pitch. Form is pretty consistent between the two of us.
- In terms of their back play, if you look at their back line, it’s a lot of the Welsh backs. Gareth Davies is a massive threat; Rhys Patchell is a really good player. They’ve got two of the Welsh centres, we’ve talked about that match-up, Steff Evans is exciting. They’ve got a lot of pace, and a lot of excitement there.
- They’ve probably missed a couple of key players this year. Beirne was a massive turnover weapon for them, he would give the ball to Steff and co. in broken play.
- They’ve got a pretty well practiced way of playing. It probably hasn’t clicked as well as they would have liked over the past couple of weeks, but they’ve got quality players and quality coaches so it will come back for them. Every team will have the odd couple of weeks where they aren’t as fluid as they would have liked.