Exciting young talent Josh Turnbull, with already over 100 caps for the Scarlets to his name and five in a Welsh international jersey, the flanker spoke to Talking Rugby Union and told us about his season so far and the importance of the LV= Cup.
Josh was born in Haverfordwest in Pembrokshire and played for Llanelli RFC and Llandovery RFC whilst at the Scarlets academy before moving to the first team in 2008.
Josh made his first appearance n January 2011 he was named in the Wales squad for the 2011 Six Nations Championships and made his international debut as a replacement in the 24-6 victory against Scotland at Murrayfield.
He was also selected for the 2012 Wales tour to Australia and he had previously represented Wales at Under 18, U19 and U20 levels.
The Scarlets currently sit in the middle of the PRO 12 table, with just three wins from seven attempts, two points behind Welsh rivals Ospreys and two ahead of neighbours Newport Gwent Dragons.
Josh admitted that their league form “has been a bit hit-and-miss really, with a few wins but too many losses.”
He continued by explaining that the “main thing we need to work on is our consistency.”
In Europe, however, the Scarlets are top of a difficult Pool 4, above Racing Metro in second, then Harlequins and ASM Clermont in bottom place.
“We’ve got a really tough group, but to go up to somewhere like Harlequins and get a win and then follow that up with a draw at Racing Metro, especially against the kind of team they have at their disposal, is a massive achievement for us.
“But, again, the biggest thing for us is consistency: we can’t go and beat a team like Harlequins and then go to somewhere like Zebre and get a draw.
“We will lose a game and then turn it around a week later with a good win, so we really just need to get a good balance in our performances.”
However, aside from the league and the Heineken Cup, for Josh, and any young player, the LV= Cup is an incredibly important part of any fixture list.
Josh recalled his early experiences of first team rugby in the LV= Cup:
“I remember going up to places like Harlequins and Wasps and being amazed at the magnitude of each game.
“They’re always cracking games in the LV= Cup”, Josh added. “Everybody throws everything into it and for me especially it was a great chance to pit myself against some of the big teams in England.
“For my own personal development it has helped me to get to where I am now: you learn a lot of harsh lessons playing against experiences players and bigger teams.
“Especially in our fixtures this year we’ve got to play against Newport, Saracens, Gloucester and London Irish; which are all going to be really difficult, competitive games.”
The Scarlets face local rivals Newport on Friday night at home in the first round of the competition, and Josh said that “no-one will be taking it easy in a local derby.
“We’ve already played the Dragons once this year and they’ll now be thinking they’re one-nil up against us, so they can do it again.
“But the most important thing for us is to build upon the big win we had over Ulster last weekend.
“I think some youngsters are going to be given a chance in the cup, because we’ve used it in the past as a development tournament.
“Nothing changes, though, in terms of what the team wants to get out of it; we know that if we want to win anything the consistency has to be there throughout the club within everyone who is on the field.”
Moving away from the competition, the flanker told Talking Rugby Union about his memories of putting on the Welsh international jersey for the first time, after working his way through the ranks of age-grade rugby:
“It was a couple of years ago now, but whatever age group it is when you play for Wales it’s always an incredible honour.
“It’s something I’m never going to forget. It was such an occasion; finally getting to put on that jersey and get some game time for my country was brilliant.
“It’s something I want to do again and fingers crossed it won’t be too far away now.”
However, with the high profile success of the Welsh side as it is at the moment, particularly in the back-row where there’s an abundance of Lions players, such as Captain Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau – the task won’t be an easy one:
“Yeah, you look at the Welsh back-row at the moment and we’ve got four Lions – five if you include Ryan Jones – and its tough competition to get in there and you’ve got to be at the top of your game to do so.
“My ambitions are still to go and play for Wales, that’s never going to change, because, obviously, it’s my country of birth and you always want to represent your country.
“But for me I want to concentrate on my club rugby and hopefully let my performances on the pitch do the talking for me.”
In addition, Josh explained that Scarlets’s plans and ambitions as a club this season are to “get as deep into the knockout stage of every competition that we can.
“Last year we got to the semi-finals of the PRO 12 and nothing has changed there, we want to get into those knockout stages.
“When you get to that stage anything can happen – it’s whoever turns up on the day.
“As a group we assess after every game and the direction we want to go in as a unit hasn’t changed at all: we’re still looking to get to those playoffs at the end of the season.”
The Scarlets welcome local rivals Newport Gwent Dragons to Llanelli on Friday night for the first round of the LV= Cup.
Be part of the rugby family at the LV=Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on March 16th. Tickets now available www.ticketmaster.co.uk