Clermont Auvergne v Scarlets: Aaron Shingler ready for the test
AARON Shingler says he is preparing himself for his toughest game yet in a Scarlets jersey.
Shingler has been one of the form players in Welsh rugby during the opening six rounds of the RaboDirect Pro12.
But as the West Wales region prepare to take on Clermont Auvergne, one of the favourites for this season’s Heineken Cup, in their stronghold in the shadow of the Massif Central on Saturday, the 25-year-old back-rower knows a mountainous challenge awaits.
“I am anticipating one of the hardest games I have had in a Scarlets shirt and it is going to be one of the toughest games we have played as a group, but it is exciting as well. I am looking forward to that challenge,” said Shingler.
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“We have got to go out there and play as well as we can play and hopefully we will get the result.
“It is going to be tough, but you never know. It will be interesting how we square up to the big boys.”
This week much has been made of Clermont’s formidable 47-match unbeaten home run at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
But Shingler insists that statistic hasn’t cropped up in conversation at Parc y Scarlets.
“I have never played them before and I wouldn’t say I have seen too much of them play either,” he added.
“We are not concentrating too much on what they will bring and their record. We have not talked about that at all. We will just stick to our game-plan.
“We feel like we have a lot of potential as a group. We are happy how we have done in the first six games and the next two weeks is going to be intense and exciting.
“It is a big opportunity for us.”
If Shingler can produce another standout display in the Heineken Cup — widely considered to be a shop window for international selection — then he is sure to come into the thoughts of Wales caretaker coach Robert Howley ahead of the forthcoming autumn Test series.
Dan Lydiate’s ankle injury has opened up a vacancy in the back row and although former Wales skipper Ryan Jones will be favourite to slot in alongside Toby Faletau and Sam Warburton, Shingler’s versatility could stand him in good stead.
“Every player in Wales wants to play for Wales and I am no different,” added the Hendy product, capped against Scotland and the Barbarians last season before being selected in Howley’s tour party for Australia.
“For me, I have just got to play well for the Scarlets. If I get picked, great, but, as I said, I just want to be playing well here. Things like that look after themselves then.
“I am happy playing six at the moment, it is where I feel I am playing my best rugby, and I hope to play there as much as I can for the Scarlets.”