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Abrahams puts faith in Siwan as captain

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WALES Women head coach Warren Abrahams has confirmed Siwan Lillicrap as his captain to lead the side into the rescheduled Women’s Six Nations in April.

Abrahams, who was appointed as head coach in November said, “I’m delighted to name Siwan as captain.

It’s been amazing to see her leadership both on and off the field in recent months, together with some other good leaders around her, through what has been a tough time for everyone.

Siwan is a fantastic role model, not only for our current group of players but also in terms of the legacy this group of players will leave for the next generation of Wales Women internationals and the community game.

“Siwan has had her fair share of injury setbacks recently but always supported the group whole-heartedly. It took her a number years to break into the side – that hunger to represent her country is as evident now as ever.”

Lillicrap, who has held the captain’s arm band since November 2019 said, “It’s a huge honour as always to put on the Wales jersey and to lead the team is incredibly special to me, especially at this time. The girls have put in so much work on and off the field over the past year without any international fixtures and to have some Six Nations matches to look forward to and aim for now means so much to us all.

“We are grateful to have this opportunity and the privilege of representing and leading your country never diminishes. It’s something you can never assume or take for granted. We’ve all been challenged in new ways in recent months and I know I’ve worked hard to prove myself to Warren as a player and captain which makes it even more meaningful.”

Wales will travel to France on the weekend of April 3, host Ireland the following weekend and contest a third, ‘play-off’ match on the weekend of April 24 in a format similar to the Autumn Nations Cup.

Abrahams believes the side is in as good as place as possible five weeks out from their opening game.

“We all feel incredibly lucky to be working towards some competitive, Six Nations matches. We are pushing ourselves as a management team and we are squeezing every drop out of our weekly coaching sessions and other ways we can grow as a squad. Every team has had to re-evaluate following the effects of the pandemic on sport and I believe the teams that come out best after all this will be the ones who are best equipped to adapt to the different pressures and challenges.

“It is fantastic to watch the contribution our players are making to their Allianz Premier 15s clubs. They are benefitting from top quality coaching and game-time there and we are grateful for that too.”

Former USA women’s sevens coach Abrahams insists he isn’t looking any further than the trip to France on the weekend of April 3.

“Everything is tailored towards that first game in France now. It’s very exciting to be training as a group but there’s no better feeling than representing your country and to be able to look forward to being part of a competitive Six Nations match is what we are all passionate about. But first we have to get the work done and believe in ourselves. We are encouraged by the physical progress and performance improvements the players are making both within our environment and for their clubs and they are taking ownership of aspects of the analysis work on our opposition. Whether or not we will have any crowds on the day, France will be a formidable opponent that we need to respect but at the same time it’s anyone’s game on the day. The match will give is a fantastic idea of where we are and after that we will concentrate on welcoming Ireland to Wales.”

Abrahams has extended his training squad with a view to developing depth in readiness for Rugby World Cup in September. Along with the return from injury of internationals Lleucu George, Kerin Lake and Ffion Lewis, he has added five uncapped players in 17 year old Gloucester-Hartpury forward Sisilia Tuipulotu, props Laura Bleehen, Gwenllian Jenkins and Madi Johns and Exeter scrum-half Megan Davies and welcomed back Mel Howley (née Clay) after a year out due to the birth of her son along with international forwards Carys Phillips and Bethan Dainton thanks to their good form for Worcester Warriors and Harlequins respectively in the Allianz Premier 15s.

Abrahams added, “It’s vital we continue to develop the squad with the Rugby World Cup just around the corner. We are pleased with the attitude the players have shown throughout this period and we are excited for the next phase.”

Wales Women training squad:

Forwards: Laura Bleehen, Abbie Fleming, Alisha Butchers, Gwen Crabb, Bethan Dainton, Georgia Evans, Cerys Hale, Cara Hope, Mel Howley, Molly Kelly, Gwenllian Jenkins, Natalia John, Manon Johnes, Madi Johns, Kelsey Jones, Beth Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap, Robyn Lock, Carys Phillips, Shona Powell-Hughes, Donna Rose, Caryl Thomas, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Teleri Wyn Davies

Backs : Keira Bevan, Megan Davies, Alecs Donovan, Lleucu George, Beth Huntley, Bryonie King, Courtney Keight, Jade Knight, Kerin Lake, Caitlin Lewis, Ffion Lewis, Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Kayleigh Powell, Paige Randall, Jess Roberts, Gemma Rowland, Lauren Smyth, Elinor Snowsill, Niamh Terry, Meg Webb, Robyn Wilkins, Flo Williams

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Sport

Shingler set to make 200th appearance for Scarlets

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SCARLETS’ Aaron Shingler is set to make his 200th appearance for the Scarlets on Friday night as his side take on Bennetton at Parc Y Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship.

Speaking to the press on Tuesday (Oct 19), Shingler said it would be a proud moment when he walked onto the pitch.

Scarlets go into the game on the back of two defeats against Leinster and Munster and Shingler said it had been a ‘difficult couple of weeks’ for the team.

He added that Friday’s game would be a ‘test of character’ as they look to get back to winning ways.

Scarlets take on Bennetton on Friday night, kick off 7:35pm, and they then have a break of over a month before their next United Rugby Championship game.

Coach Dwayne Peel also spoke to the media and added that it was important they picked up the win on Friday.

He went on to say that although he saw an improvement in the team in the Leinster game after defeat to Munster, there was still work to do.

Dwayne said: “The boys are disappointed. We felt that at half time (against Leinster) we were still in the game, we knew the game plan we had but we were disappointed we didn’t allow ourselves to do that. So we were disappointed but in a different way.

“Ten guys have now gone away to Wales so there is a different group of boys who will get an opportunity for this game.”

With Wales playing their autumn internationals following Friday’s game, the Scarlets are next in action on November 27 when they travel to South Africa for games against the Cell C Sharks and the Vodacom Bulls.

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Three in a row for Kidwelly

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KIDWELLY Town earned their third straight win in Carmarthenhire League Division 1 on Saturday (Oct 16) as they came from behind to beat Tumble 4-1.

Tumble had lost their last three matches prior to Saturday’s game and it was they who took the lead when Garin Morris scored in the tenth minute.

Chris Cray equalised for Kidwelly and it remained 1-1 until half time.

Both sides knew the next goal would be crucial but it was the home side who got it as Rob Davis set up Alex Kay to score.

And just a minute later it was 3-1 as Connor Howells scored.

That all but won the game for the home side who made sure of the points in injury time as Kay fired in his second goal of the game from the penalty spot.

Their fourth win of the season sees them stay in eighth place but they are now only three points behind third placed FC Carmarthen.

On Saturday, October 23, Kidwelly travel to Llangennech who sit just a point and two places above them in the table.

Photo by Darren Harries

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Llangennech youth go top

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LLANGENNECH Youth moved to the top of the South East Carmarthenshire league on Saturday (Oct 16) as they thrashed Ammanford 47-0.

The home side ran in seven tries, six of which were converted, as they earned a third bonus point win in a row.

Rhys Harris scored a hat trick of tries and Kyle North also crossed the whitewash twice.

There were also tries for Ryan Guard and Kallum Morgan as the home side ran out comfortable winners.

Cameron Mills scored four of the conversion while the other two were scored by Tyler Payne.

The win sees Llangennech leapfrog Ammanford into top spot.

Llangennech will look to keep hold of their 100% record on Saturday, October 23, when they travel to Brynamman.

Photo by Darren Harries

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