Howells fears Swansea backlash


Lynn and Clive
Lynn and Clive
Lynn and Clive

[icWales] PONTYPRIDD head to St Helen's tonight fearing a Swansea backlash.

The All Whites have been slammed this season for some poor performances and results, both at home and abroad, while the likes of Wales captain Colin Charvis and Darren Morris have also been singled out for criticism over attitude and fitness.

But Pontypridd coach Lynn Howells warned, "The press will have got Swansea's back up with recent comments and I expect a reaction from them.

"Their players will know that the one place they have to do their talking is out there on the pitch.

"It is worrying for us because I am sure they will be out to show that they are not that bad a side - and I do expect a backlash from them."

Both Howells and team manager Nigel Bezani paid tribute to Pontypridd fly-half Ceri Sweeney, who yesterday received a call-up to the Wales squad just two weeks after his 23rd birthday.

"Great news," said Bezani. "We have been thinking about this for some time.

"Ceri has worked well with Neil Jenkins in training and his play has been good for us this season."

Howells added, "Ceri has developed his whole game. He now is dictating and has a greater profile in Welsh rugby.

"He and Neil are close and very good friends. His inclusion is thoroughly deserved and will further boost his confidence."

Both men also praised scrum-half Paul John for his part in Sweeney's development with Bezani saying, "Paul wants to play every match and he is the ultimate professional. He has also played a great part in Ceri's all-round improvement."

Howells, like Swansea counterpart John Connolly, will finalise selection today.

Ponty's selection has been complicated by forwards Brent Cock-bain and Geraint Lewis needing late fitness tests while Emyr Lewis continues to recover from a rib injury.

Howells said, "I have assured Steve Hansen that I will not use my Wales squad players in the Principality Cup on Saturday unless our injury list grows so bad that we just have to name one or two.

"Having been connected with the squad, I know how Steve feels and I respect that. We agreed after Tuesday that we would rest them."

There will be chances for youngsters such as Shaun James and Wayne O'Connor and Bezani added, "There is good competition for places all round in our squad, despite the many injuries we have suffered."

Swansea hope to return to winning ways after losing their three opening matches of 2003, against Llanelli, Montferrand and Cardiff - the last two defeats coming at St Helen's.

But Howells knows that Pontypridd - who have had little luck at St Helen's over the years - will have to be close to their best to get a result. > News > Noticeboard > Howells fears Swansea backlash