Priestland stays true to Scarlets
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:44
It was really important to us all to keep Rhys
The Scarlets have tied down one of Welsh rugby’s top players and assured he will remain in the country, with flyhalf Rhys Priestland extending his contract with his West Wales region.
The 26-year-old, who has already won 27 international caps and was part of the Grand Slam-winning team in 2012, has given his home region a welcome boost as he commits his rugby to Parc y Scarlets.
Priestland, who has appeared 127 times for his region, is another senior figure in West Wales rugby that has opted to stay at his home region to retain a strong backline next season at Parc y Scarlets - alongside international centre Scott Williams who has been secured on a new contract, Wales fullback and wing Liam Williams, exciting scrumhalf talent Gareth Davies who has also extended his contract and world-class centre Regan King returning to Llanelli next season from Clermont.
Added to the experience of key senior players like Priestland at Parc y Scarlets, the Scarlets have a group of young backs coming through strongly including the talented young Jordan Williams.
Priestland's signature is another significant signing for the West Wales region in recent weeks, as one of a number of Scarlets in their international ascendancy that have come through the region's successful development system over the past decade.
Priestland started out his regional rugby career as part of the Scarlets Academy aged 18 having played for Llandeilo RFC and Carmarthen Athletic. Born in Carmarthen, he is a former pupil of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Myrddin and remains fiercely loyal to his local roots.
Speaking about his new contract, Priestland said: "I'm really pleased to secured my contract with the Scarlets going forward and continue my commitment to rugby in Wales.
"As Scarlets we want to push on next season, we have some exciting players to make that happen and drive us forward and I want to be part of a team that takes that ambition and helps makes it become a reality for our region.
“With players like Scott and Reggie [Regan King] in our squad we have some world-class talent in our team along with some of the most passionate support in world club rugby.
"The Scarlets is where I've developed as a rugby player and have been supported since I first started playing - with some good coaches and experienced senior players helping me in my career.
"It's important to me to continue my commitment to a great rugby community, environment and team that I am proud to be a part of.
“We have a very strong team ethic at the Scarlets, we're a tight group. It's good to belong to an environment that means a lot to me as an individual and has a real heritage and tradition as well.
"I'm pleased to have this all decided now, so I can focus on our Six Nations rugby campaign before returning back to the Scarlets for what should be an exciting finish to the league season."
Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby said it was an important signing for the Scarlets.
"Rhys has become one of our most experienced players and has a lot to contribute to the region on and off the field. He's a key figure in our squad, an intelligent rugby player who thinks quickly, reads a game well.
"A lot has been said about how to retain our best players in Wales; and while market forces can be difficult to battle at times, there is another dimension to this discussion and that's about creating a regional rugby environment and culture that engenders loyalty, motivation and drive in players with the support to succeed.
"It was really important to us all to keep Rhys and other players at Parc y Scarlets - our supporters will be delighted too as he is a popular local player. We are delighted that someone of his ability, experience and with genuine passion for our region, has committed to remain with us.”
Priestland who developed in Scarlets rugby alongside Stephen Jones, also represented Wales at Under-19 and Under-20 levels and won his first full international cap during the 2011 Six Nations campaign in the 24-6 win against Scotland as a second-half replacement.
He was called up against England in a World Cup warm-up match in August 2011 and established himself as the first choice No.10 for Wales at the 2011 World Cup and the Grand Slam-winning Six Nations team of 2012.
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