Scarlets coach Simon Easterby: Hard to keep all happy
SCARLETS head coach Simon Easterby has admitted the region will struggle to keep hold of all four of their talented scrum-halves over the next couple of years.
The West Walians currently boast a quartet of young No. 9s who Easterby believes have bright futures in the game.
Tavis Knoyle, already capped nine times by Wales, is currently third choice in Rob Howley's Six Nations squad, 19-year-old Rhodri Williams has been starring for Llandovery in the Welsh Premiership and for Wales Under-20s, while 20-year-old Aled Davies and 22-year-old Gareth Davies have been impressing in the fight for the regional jersey in recent weeks.
All four are under contract with the Scarlets for another season, but Easterby has conceded that he may not be able to keep all four happy with regular game-time.
"They are all contracted for next year and ideally we would like to keep them all," he said. "We will have to see what happens in terms of budget and how we can manage those four players.
"Obviously, they all have huge ambition to play regularly and to play at the top level and I think they all have got potential qualities to play above regional level, but we aren't going to be able to give them all that opportunity.
"We will have to make a call, if it's not this year, then next year, on a couple of them because I doubt whether we will be able to keep hold of all four.
"We will probably lose one, if not two, of those four scrum-halves and that will be a shame. But it's important that they realise their ambitions as well and if we are not able to give a couple of those individuals opportunities, they might need to look elsewhere."
It has been Aled Davies who has occupied the No. 9 jersey for the last three matches and was one of the Scarlets' star performers in their 18-10 Pro12 victory over Munster last weekend.
"We have probably never really settled on our first-choice nine this season," added Easterby. "Aled, like all of them, is a real talent and they have all got different skill sets.
"It's great competition, but it also does make it difficult deciding who is the best person for each individual game.
"You want to give players a run of games to get a bit of continuity and that is what we have done in the last couple of weeks.
"Aled has taken his opportunity and is starting to thrive in the way we are playing."
Aled Davies is again favourite to start in the Scarlets' Pro12 clash with play-off rivals Leinster in Dublin on Saturday evening — another crucial fixture in the top four shake-up.
Gareth Owen (knee) and Joe Snyman (ankle) picked up injuries in the Munster win, but Easterby is hopeful both will be available for selection.