16.1.2003 Injuries inspire initiative
[icWales] CERI Sweeney is proving to be a good man in a crisis for Pontypridd.
The young fly-half did a fine job as an emergency centre against Connacht last Saturday after the Sardis side lost midfield pair Jonny Bryant and Sonny Parker in quick succession. Now he's ready to continue to fill the breach if so required.
"Lynn Howells has asked me if I would help out because of the injury situation." he said.
"It isn't something I am looking to do full-time."
"But it isn't a case of saying I'm not going to play there. I will help out."
Having started the Connacht game at fly-half, Sweeney switched to inside centre when Parker and Bryant were struck down within a couple of minutes of each other midway through the first half. Wales star Parker suffered a broken forearm which will keep out for around six weeks, while Bryant faces a month on the sidelines after tearing his hamstring in the build-up to Ponty's first try.
Their double departure forced a major midfield reshuffle, with Shaun James replacing Parker at outside centre, Sweeney taking over from Bryant in the inside berth and Neil Jenkins coming on at fly-half.
"I'd seen Sonny go off, but I didn't know Jonny had gone as well, because it happened during the try." said Sweeney.
"So I couldn't understand why Shaun was saying for me to go to 12."
"Then he said the two of them had gone and I saw Neil come on."
"I realised what had happened then, so I just went to inside centre."
"I have played a couple games there before when I was 18 and I've had a few runs in training because Jonny Bryant and Jason Lewis have been injured."
"So it wasn't totally new to me."
"But it had been quite a while since I'd played there."
"Given the circumstances, it's just a case of getting on with it."
This Sweeney did, playing his part in a thrilling 35-30 victory in the Parker Pen quarter-final first leg at Athlone's Ericsson Park. "It was a good game," he said.
"They were scoring, we were scoring."
"We stuffed them back in October, but we knew it wasn't going to be like that again, especially with all the talk that they might be disbanded."
"We're in the same sort of situation and both sides wanted to play rugby and prove a point." "It made for a really fast game and I thoroughly enjoyed it."
Sweeney, who will be 23 next week, could now find himself starting at inside centre for Saturday's second leg at Sardis Road (5.30pm) and playing alongside Jenkins. So far this season, the duo have shared out the fly-half duties pretty evenly.
"Lynn has said we've both been playing well and it's just horses for courses." said Sweeney.
"We've had half the games each and generally it's been going well."
"As long as the team is winning, I'm happy."
The Glyncoch-product has also had the bonus of being called into the Wales training squad for the Six Nations. Looking ahead to Saturday's rematch with Connacht, he insists the tie is far from over, despite Ponty taking a lead into the home leg.
"It's only five points. That's nothing," he said.
"I just hope we don't play like we did in our last home game against Ebbw Vale."
"If we do that then we'll go out."
Play Off Final
Total votes 53
Ponty ar ben eu digon - pencampwyr dwbwl Cymru. Pwy oedd yn serennu yn y gem fawr yn erbyn Llanelli? Ponty on top of the world - double champions of Welsh rugby. Who starred in the big win over Llanelli?