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Easterby sets sights on Euro mission

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    Posted: 20 August 2004 at 9:52am

Fingers crossed for KEv Morgan this season with the Dragons as he is a really good player but like Mark Jones with injury

 

Hope he can oust Percy at full back

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Delboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 August 2004 at 9:50am
Strong side named by Gloucester, should be a tough match
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Beefs army Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 August 2004 at 9:14am

NEW skipper Simon Easterby has set himself the target of guiding the Scarlets to European glory this season.

The Heineken Cup remains the holy grail for the men from Stradey, who continue their preparations for the new campaign by taking on Gloucester in a friendly at Kingsholm tonight (7.30pm).

Easterby said, "Europe is where we'll really measure ourselves this year again.

"As much as winning the Celtic League last season is something we are very proud of, we let ourselves down in the quarter-final stage of the Heineken Cup.

"We've got to step up our levels there and that's something we'll be targeting.

"I think we are as strong as any squad in Europe, but we've got to prove that we can compete with the best on the day.

"We really want to stamp our authority on the Heineken Cup. European rugby is our main aim again and, hopefully, we can go all the way.

"We won the Celtic League last year, but hopefully we can give our fans a bit more to shout about this season."

Ireland star Easterby feels the Scarlets are in good shape as he surveys the squad he will be leading into action.

"It's fantastic to see players like Arwel Thomas, Andy Powell and Gavin Thomas joining the region," he said.

"It's really given the whole squad a huge lift and the expectation here is high.

"The likes of Iestyn Thomas, Mark Taylor and Robin McBryde, who usually would have been away with Wales, have had a great pre-season.

"They are looking very sharp and putting pressure on those of us who have been on tour to raise our standards and keep up with them.

"It's been an excellent pre-season and we are looking forward to getting stuck into the rugby."

Unlike his home-based Irish Test colleagues, Easterby isn't contractually obliged to sit out the first three weeks of the season and is raring to go.

"I genuinely feel fresh," said the flanker. "I've worked hard for the last five weeks on my fitness and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the ball.

"It has been a hell of a year, with the World Cup and everything, but this year is a big year as well for all players involved.

"I am excited and I can't wait to get started. It's an honour to captain the Scarlets. There's a huge tradition I've got a lot to live up to.

"There is fierce competition, particularly in the back row. That is what you want. That's how you lift standards.

"Potentially our pack could be awesome, but we've got to go out there and produce the goods on the pitch."

The Scarlets will give debuts to Arwel Thomas and Powell against Gloucester.

Meanwhile, the Dragons will hand a first appearance to Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney in tomorrow's friendly at Northampton.

Former Celtic Warrior Sweeney is joined in the starting line-up by fellow Welsh tourists Hal Luscombe, Jason Forster, Nathan Brew, Steve Jones and Peter Sidoli, as the Dragons make nine changes from the team that lost to a Gwent Premiership XV.

Scarlets: G Evans; A Havili, T Selley, S Finau, R Rees; A Thomas, M Phillips; D Maddocks, M Rees, J Davies, B Griffiths, C Wyatt, A Powell, S Quinnell, G Thomas.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, N Mauger, H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Gomarsall; N Wood, O Azam, G Powell, P Buxton, A Brown, A Balding, J Forrester, J Boer.

Replacements: C Fortey, T Sigley, A Eustace, A Hazell, A Page, T Fanolua, M Foster.

Dragons: K Morgan; G Wyatt, H Luscombe, J Bryant, N Brew; C Sweeney, G Baber; R Snow, S Jones, C Anthony, I Gough, P Sidoli, R Beattie, R Bryan, J Forster (capt). Replacements: J Richards, R Thomas/A Black or G Robinson, L Charteris, R Oakley/J Ringer, R Jones, C Warlow, S Winn/B Breeze.

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