Boobyer answers Ponty SOS

21.1.2003 Llanelli centre heads for Sardis

[icWales] INJURY-HIT Pontypridd have recruited Welsh international Neil Boobyer.

The seven-times capped centre has joined the Sardis Road side on permit from Heineken Cup semi-finalists Llanelli.

He will play for them on a game-by-game basis and is available for Saturday's Welsh Premiership trip to Newport.

Ponty have turned to 30-year-old Boobyer because of injuries to their two first-choice centres Sonny Parker and Jonny Bryant.

Both players were struck down within a couple of minutes of each other during the first leg of the Parker Pen quarter-final against Connacht in Athlone 10 days ago.

Wales star Parker suffered a broken left forearm and will be sidelined for around five weeks, ruling him out of the opening Six Nations matches against Italy (February 15) and England (February 22).

Bryant faces another fortnight or so out of action after damaging his hamstring at Ericsson Park.

In addition, Ponty have now also lost the services of fly-half Neil Jenkins.

The double British Lion fractured his thumb in last Saturday's second-leg victory over Connacht at Sardis Road.

He will be unable to play for between four to six weeks, which means he too will sit out Wales' first two championship matches.

His absence restricts Ponty's midfield options still further.

They have employed Ceri Sweeney as an emergency inside centre in their last two matches, but he will now be needed to fill his regular position at fly-half with Jenkins crocked.

All of which makes the arrival of Boobyer very timely.

The Bridgend product has had limited opportunities during his testimonial season at Llanelli, with Leigh Davies and Matthew Watkins firmly established as first-choice centres.

So the move to Sardis Road provides him with the chance to get some rugby.

Ponty chief executive Gareth Thomas said: "Neil will be playing for us on permit on a game-by-game basis.

"We've got three midfield backs out injured at the moment, so we obviously need cover and Neil fits the bill perfectly.

"He's a quality player and we're delightedto have him on board. "We looked at him last year as a possible signing and when our two centres were injured out in Ireland we decided to approach Llanelli.

"Neil hasn't featured for them that much this season and they were agreeable to him joining us on permit.

"Under that arrangement, they can recall him if they need to."

Meanwhile, Ponty will find out tomorrow whether they will be home or away in the first leg of their Parker Pen semi-final against Wasps.

The first leg is scheduled for the weekend of April 12-13, with the return a fortnight later. Bath take on Saracens in the other semi. > News > Noticeboard > Boobyer answers Ponty SOS