SHANE Howarth has gone back to basics to try to solve his place- kicking problems as he bids to help Newport knock arch enemy Cardiff out of the Principality Cup tomorrow night.

After topping the 400-mark and kicking almost everything last season, Howarth has been well wide of the mark this year.

In fact, though Newport have scored 15 tries more than Llanelli at the top of the Welsh/Scottish League table, they aggregate just two points more.

"I'm my biggest critic and I've been inconsistent," admitted Howarth (pictured). "Normally my success rate is between 75%-80%, but this year it's been 60% which is not good enough.

"I tried to change a lot of things and I did a Nick Faldo with my swing and stuffed it up. I'm the Ian Baker-Finch of rugby!

"But after the Ebbw Vale game (only one of five tries was converted) it was back to the drawing board.

"I've been flat out to try to get the rhythm back. I practiced it during the Blackwood game and slowly and surely it's coming back.

"I have felt confident and when we scored a couple of tries under the posts against Blackwood I took the ball back 35 yards to get them in.

"It's all a confidence thing. It's a mental thing. "I got down after Ebbw Vale, but now it's funny because the boys have been giving me stick."

Howarth aims to be back on song tomorrow on a ground where Newport have not succeeded for seven years.

"It's a big game. Cardiff at Cardiff, you can't get much bigger than that," he said. "They'll be ready for us, they rolled us with half a side last time, now they're at full strength.

"They're coming together quite well. It's between us, them and Llanelli for the double. I'd love to have a run at both, so would Cardiff. We loved winning the cup in the Millennium Stadium."

Howarth has still not given up on a return to the Welsh team after he becomes eligible again in May.

But he has not heard from the International Board about the dual country rule which says if you had played for one country you couldn't represent another.

Newport team-mate Ofisa Tonu'u is waiting to hear whether he can play for Samoa again having also played for New Zealand.

"If Steve Hansen thinks I'm good enough it would be great, but it's out of my hands," said Howarth.

"If the rule brought in in 2000 stands it could sound the death knell for the Pacific Islands." l The referee tomorrow is David Davies.