Blackwood boosted by Keys link-up
BLACKWOOD hope that the carrot of playing Premiership rugby will lead to a strong campaign in the Championship, writes Chris Kirwan.
It’s not promotion that the Glan-yr-Afon outfit are eyeing; they have strengthened their links with Cross Keys and hope to profit from strong performances by burgeoning young talent.
Plenty of young hopefuls will make the short trip north from Pandy Park along with those needing game time on the comeback trail from injury while the best of Blackwood’s young talent will be monitored closely by the Keys set-up.
“It’s a great incentive for our players,” said Blackwood head coach Matthew Veater. “We will be training with Cross Keys once a month and our boys will be in the shop window.
“If the link-up works in the right way then it should help develop our players and give the ones that aspire to play in the Premiership a real opportunity, while also being of value to Keys.”
Veater and co-coach Matthew Back have been joined by Steve Llewellyn, who will assist with the forwards and strengthen the club’s links with Coleg Gwent, where he is a lecturer.
Nigel Way has also arrived as director of rugby with the responsibility of overseeing the management team.
On the field Blackwood have bolstered their ranks with three players from Championship rivals.
Back row forward Dean Gibbs has signed from Newbridge while scrum-halves Matthew Hutchings and Ludo Thomas arrive from Bargoed and Newbridge respectively.
After being beaten by Keys in a pair of friendlies last week, preparations for the Championship opener at Bridgend Athletic on September 7 continue when they host Coventry on Friday.
The West Midlanders, who are coached by former Dragon Scott Morgan and boast Rodney Parade old boys Matthew Jones and Tim Ryan in their ranks, will field a second team with their firsts taking on Cross Keys the following day.