By Ian Golden, Date: 22/1/13
South Wales Scorpions coach Dave Clark believes that the 2013 season for South Wales Scorpions is set to be the most special and exciting to date.
With three new sides in Championship One for the Scorpions to face and an exciting crop of new players to complement the existing talent, he believes that this could be Scorpions year as they aim for promotion to the Championship.
The Scorpions start their season on Sunday 27th January when they take on a Wigan Warriors XIII, a line-up consisting of first team and under 19 squad members. They are then looking to face Wigan away later in February before the competitive season starts in earnest.
â€œIâ€™ve been very pleased with how the players have done in training so far,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™ve a committed bunch of 25 who are giving their all. Itâ€™s a far cry from last year when we only had half of that number near to the start of the season and were relying on our partnership with Wigan far too much.
â€œBy the end of last season we had used 53 players in league matches alone, 16 more in cup games, and we know we canâ€™t and we wonâ€™t do that again.
â€œBut itâ€™s given us the chance to have our longest pre-season ever! Our players may not have come back in training until December, and some in January, but in reality our pre-season planning for 2013 started in August 2012.
â€œBy then we were out of contention to reach the play-offs so we were just seeing the season out. It gave us a chance to blood in a few youngsters and see who could be ready for a first team squad place this year.â€
During the last month of the 2012 season, Clark gave debuts to Thomas Gwyn Morgan, Alex Jones, Mike Connor, Kristian Hawkes, Chris Leyshon and Sam Wellings, all of whom are in the Scorpions squad for 2013.
In fact, of the 25 players used in the last four games by Clark, 16 have been kept on for this campaign while there are six exciting new signings – two Welsh youngsters from the Leeds Rhinos junior ranks, Ollie Olds and Jack Pring, a former Cardiff Blues junior, plus three overseas players.
â€œWeâ€™ve brought in Kayle Connor, who was a Brisbane Broncos academy player,â€ said Clark, â€œHeâ€™s a half-back, a strong and powerful try-scorer and is a fantastic kicker of the ball.
â€œHaydn Peacock is a back rower from Cronulla Sharks. For those who have seen his video on YouTube of some his best tries, youâ€™ll know how good a player he looks.
â€œPlus weâ€™ve Tongan international James Tutuila who is primarily a loose forward but can also do just as well at hooker, which was the position that he made his international debut last year.
â€œOllie Olds has been playing Rugby League since aged 11 in South Wales so weâ€™re delighted to have him on board. Itâ€™s also good to welcome back Jack Pring after a year at Leeds Rhinos. Heâ€™s played for the Scorpions before and I know he canâ€™t wait to get going again.
â€œPlus weâ€™ve high hopes for former Cardiff Blues junior Kyle Perry who could be a very strong and tough asset for our forward line.â€
Clark knows that he has a young squad but itâ€™s an experienced one. Of the 26 players named in their yearbook, seven are full Welsh Rugby League internationals, nine are Welsh junior internationals (one of whom now has a full cap for Italy!), two are Wales Student internationals and two are Wales Dragonhearts internationals.
And when you add to that a full Irish and Tongan international, two more Welsh-born prospects and their two Australian NRL academy players, itâ€™s a good mixture of Welshness, youth, experience and a touch of cosmopolitan flavour for the Scorpions when they take to the field for an interesting and exciting encounter against a tough Wigan Warriors select side this Sunday at The Gnoll.
Ashley Bateman – Centre / Second Row
Joe Burke – Prop
TJ Collin – Centre / Second Row
Kayle Connor – Utility Back
Mike Connor – Prop
Courtney Davies – Stand Off
Rhys Davies – Prop
Connor Farrer – Hooker
Dalton Grant – Centre / Wing
Kristian Hawkes – Half-back
David James – Full-back / Wing
Alex Jones – Wing
Chris Leyshon – Centre
Thomas Gwyn Morgan – Second Row
Ollie Olds – Scrum-half
Shaun Owens – Stand-off / Hooker
Steve Parry – Stand-off / Hooker
Haydn Peacock – Second Row
Kyle Perry – Forward
Osian Phillips – Half-back
Jack Pring – Centre
Lewis Reece – Wing / Utility
James Tutuila – Loose Forward / Second Row
Chris Vitalini – Loose Forward
Liam Watton – Wing / Half-back
Sam Wellings – Second Row