Scarlets prop Rhodri Jones relishing chance to rebuild season after injury
RHODRI Jones is hoping to use the LV= Cup as the chance to rebuild his injury-ravaged campaign
The 21-year-old Scarlets prop hasn't started a match for the region since undergoing a shoulder operation at the beginning of September.
Just seven months ago Jones was winning his first Wales cap against the Barbarians before heading Down Under with Rob Howley's squad where he played in the midweek win over the Brumbies.
However, the injury setback, which kept him sidelined for 10 weeks, has not only stalled his international ambitions, but his regional progress as well.
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He has so far made only seven appearances for the Scarlets this season — five of those off the replacements' bench.
In contrast, veteran Phil John, who made his 250th appearance for club and region in the Heineken Cup defeat to Clermont last weekend, has played in 19 of the Scarlets' 21 matches this season, starting in 16 of them.
John is set to be given a well-earned break from the front-line as the Scarlets take on Sale Sharks at the Salford City Stadium tomorrow (3pm).
And that gives the Machynlleth youngster the opportunity to showcase the talents that saw him earmarked by Wales as a front-rower of considerable potential.
"I picked up the injury against Worcester in pre-season and my scrummaging was suffering as a result in the opening couple of Rabo games," explained Jones.
"After the Glasgow match I had a scan and it showed I had dislocated the shoulder and there was other damage there as well. It needed to be operated on because the fact that I wasn't able to scrummage properly was damaging my reputation as a prop.
"It is feeling a lot stronger now and I'm looking forward to getting a couple of games under my belt because I haven't played much rugby recently."
The return of Jones will be one of a number of changes to the Scarlets' starting line-up for this Anglo-Welsh encounter.
With nine players absent because of Wales demands and a number of others likely to be rested after a gruelling series of fixtures, tomorrow's contest in the north west offers opportunities to the likes of fly-half Owen Williams, lock Jake Ball and back-rowers Lewis Rawlins and Craig Price, who have been catching the eye for Llanelli RFC.
"Winning is a habit and we want to get back to winning ways," added Jones.
"We are a tight group here and the boys are determined to put things right before the league campaign starts again.
"There is a lot still to play for this season."