Wales Rugby League




23rd January 2013, 16:42



By Gary Baker


SOUTH Wales Scorpions head coach Dave Clark (pictured) is confident the Championship One side will be in top shape for the big kick-off in a few weeks.


 Clark puts his side out against Wigan Warriors on Sunday at The Gnoll (ko: 2pm) for their first pre-season warm-up match, although the Super League giants are likely to leave many of the stars, who took them to the top of the end-of-campaign table last year, at home for this run-out.


However, some outstanding young talents, such as Connor Farrell, a distant cousin of legend Andy Farrell, and Newport's own Rhodri Lloyd, who made his debut for the Wales senior side in France last year, are on show.


Clark, who is also Wigan's Development coach, said: "The Scorpions are ambitious. We have always wanted to make the top level of the Champioinship and that has always been an ambition.


"We want to improve. Last year, we came second from the bottom so this year we need to improve on that. If we do that, we are going in the right direction.


"I think we have started that (going in the right direction) with the squad we have constructed. We are in a lot different situation than we were last year. Then, we only had 12 or 13 players. Now we have a squad of 23 or 24. We have some young kids coming through as well so the squad is healthy, as well as the partnership with Wigan.


"With Wigan not having an Under-23 side this year, hopefully we will have some quality players down our end so that will benefit us as well. I am really looking forward to the year."


With luck, the snow and ice will be rapidly thawing by Sunday for the first real run-out of the year, although the squad have already been back at training since January 3..


Clark added: "Our season doesn't start till March so our pre-season starts normally around December. But this year we are starting in January. We are a bit delayed as a squad but the boys have five sessions now so there is not a lot we want out of this friendly with Wigan other than it being a conditioning session to get the boys timing and the little things we are doing in training right.


"It is not mainly about the set plays because we haven't covered a lot of that at this stage but it will be interesting to find out how the players adapt and how the players perform. We have some good individuals here so it will be good to dust the cobwebs off and see them perform."


There are only two warm-up matches against Wigan to get it right before the Northern Rail Cup kicks-off on March 3 at home to London Skolars. And, in April, the Championship One opens up with the big clash against North Wales Crusaders.


Clark said of that derby: "That should be fantastic down here and on TV. These are important games of the year which is Wales against Wales. They have recruited well."


And he is happy too that the big attraction is so early in the campaign - first match - rather than later in the season.


"I'm happy as it is. We have got to play them sometime. We have four games in the Northern Rail first so there is plenty of time for us to prep up and make sure we are ready for that first game. That will be a bit of a benchmark for us too. That will give us an idea of where we are."