EXCITEMENT MOUNTING AS 150th KICK OFF APPROACHES
Excitement is mounting in and around the Neath RFC team camp with rugby imminent at long last.
The Welsh All Blacks have been training hard in preparation for Welsh rugby’s big return which will finally become a reality on Saturday, August 7th with the visit to Tata Steel.
The kick off for Neath’s 150th Anniversary season is timed for 2.30pm.
Upwards of 40 players have trained with the Club this summer – not all at the same time ! – and places are still up for grabs with coach Patrick Horgan keen to use the Championship Cup and warm-up games to run his keen eye over the newcomers.
The vast majority of the squad that was in place for the written-off 2020/21 season are still on board. That number included a good number of new and returning players but Neath have added further to the squad.
Crowd-pleasing back three man Ian Ellis returns to boost a potent-looking back division. Up front, lock Sam Langford arrives via Neath Athletic, Glynneath and Llanelli while flanker Alun Jones is fit again and eager to return after a three-year absence.
Others are expected to be added soon but currently those on Neath’s roster are (in strictly alphabetical order) : –
Backs – Ben Atkins, Jonny Bayliss, Aaron Bramwell, Ian Ellis, Ryan Evans, Luke Griffiths, Macauley Griffiths, Nicky Griffiths, Elis Horgan, David Langdon, Iestyn Morgan, Jarrad Rees, Jordan Rees, James Roberts and Steffen Williams.
Forwards – Jon Barley, Jacob Blackmore, Josh Clark, Sion Crocker, David Griggs, Alun Jones, Steffan Jones, Sam Langford, Gareth Lloyd, Owain Morgan, Jack Powell and Tim Ryan.
Several young candidates who have not yet transferred in are likely to get early chances to stake a claim for vacant positions. The squad proper will be finalised later than usual this year due to the delayed – and, as yet, unrevealed by the WRU – start of the League programme.
“We are always aiming to improve and we are always on the look-out for players with the ability and ambition to play for Neath so we will see some more new players,” said head coach Pat Horgan.
Of course, some players move on and Neath will miss the emerging young flanker Ben Lukes who is moving to study in France. He was progressing nicely but his loss presents an opportunity for other young back rowers.
Elsewhere, Matthew Jones is now coaching at Bridgend and Matthew Davies joins him while Scott Malone has gone back to Llanharan where he is joined by Ross Pritchard who was one of four scrum-halves on Neath’s list – the Mid Glamorgan quartet made only 13 starts between them in 2019/20 so their release should be amply covered by the arrivals.
There is just one more training-session to go before the team is announced here on Friday morning – and then all roads lead to Margam ready for the big kick-off !