Scarlets backing Rhys Priestland to recover
THE Scarlets are confident that Rhys Priestland won't be affected by his early-season kicking demons.
The Wales No. 10 landed just one success from seven attempts at goal as the Scarlets continued their impressive start to the season with a battling 18-13 victory over Glasgow at Scotstoun last Friday.
Priestland's goal-kicking has been an area of concern in the past and a part of his game both the Scarlets and Wales have worked hard on improving.
However, ahead of Saturday's RaboDirect Pro12 clash with Connacht, backs coach Mark Jones believes the 25-year-old, who has established himself as his country's first-choice No. 10 since last year's World Cup in New Zealand, will not let his off-day in Glasgow get to him.
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"Obviously, when your kicking success is only 14 per cent it is a concern, but I am confident we can still win a game with that being the case and I know Rhys has already started putting that aspect of his game right," said Jones.
"There was lots of good stuff in Rhys's general game against Glasgow. We didn't take the kicking duties from him, we just left him to it and he will only get better for it.
"Last year Nigel (Davies) and myself discussed some of the goal-kicking issues of the season and we made a big point of trying to get Rhys in with Jenks (Neil Jenkins, Wales's kicking coach) as much as we could and I know Rhys has worked hard on improving that part of his game.
"He puts a big focus on it. Rhys spoke to Jenks on Monday morning, he has been working hard again this week and I am confident he will be much better on Saturday."
Priestland is again likely to wear the No. 10 jersey at The Sportsground as the Scarlets look to maintain their unbeaten league run.
"It is important that Rhys, as our number one ten and Wales's number one ten, is given as much game time as he can to be right for Europe," added Jones, who also revealed the region are weighing up the option of adding a kicking coach to their armoury.
"My brief experience of coaching Rhys is that he gains confidence and plays better when he plays consistently. We are trying to get our best players playing into form."
Meanwhile, on the back of the Scarlets' opening wins over Leinster and Glasgow, head coach Simon Easterby is again likely to rotate his squad for the trip to Galway.
Former Ospreys wing Kristian Phillips is sidelined with a hamstring strain he picked up playing for Llanelli RFC last Friday, but talented 18-year-old full- back Jordan Williams could make his Pro12 debut after not being included in Llanelli's side for the Premiership clash with Neath this evening.