JOHN READY FOR PRINCIPALITY AND NEW LAWS
Pontypridd coach Paul John has told the Reebok WRU podcast he is ready for a tough start to the new season in the Principality Premiership as all the teams come to terms with the new laws.
John was Principality Coach of the Year last season for steering Ponty to third in the league and into the Konica Minolta Cup final.
"Sides in the league seem to be getting stronger and stronger, bulking their sides up and the regions will be putting more players out to the feeder clubs below," said John.
"We have a difficult start with Newport at home first, then Neath and we have Cardiff early on too.
"Neath lost a couple of games last year, we beat them twice in the league but did not get close to them in the final apart from the last few minutes.
"It is difficult to compete with them because of the squad they have put together, the players are attracted there because of the way they play at the moment.
"Sides always raise their game against them, but they set out the standard everyone wants to beat and it will be difficult again.
"We have ambition, our resources are not as great as we would like and the budget was cut a little bit, but the players we have got have been fantastic and we have kept as many players as we would like apart from Lee Evans who has moved on to Neath.
"The players have been great, a few have taken a little wage cut this year which is always hard to do, but they have been working hard pre-season and we are capable of beating anyone on our day - consistency is the biggest thing and that is what we will strive for this year.
"Also there are A team fixtures for the regions this year so that will be another incentive for the players, there is another stepping stone up to the top.
"The standard of play in this league is getting better and better each year."
There is also the challenge of getting used to the ELV's or the experimental law changes for the coming season.
"Most of them are positive and there should be more attacking at our level," said John. "I am not so sure about the lineout because being able to put in as many players as you like could make it harder to win your own ball which could be frustrating.
"Players being back five metres from the scrum will make the scrum half very important, but if you can get a solid scrum then it should be a good platform to attack from.
"Collapsing the maul is an interesting one because most sides became good at defending the maul last year but collapsing it will be another option.
"Quick lineouts will make the game a lot quicker, not being able to kick the ball out will mean the ball is in play for longer, so it should be interesting."
Listen to this week's Reebok Welsh Rugby Union podcast and find out how you can learn all about them from Blues community rugby manager Richard Hodges. http://wru.co.uk/10366_10360.php