PIC: WRU Principality Premiership Launch, Pontypridd – Representatives of the teams in the 2012-13 WRU Principality Premiership at the launch at Pontypridd RFC Left to right – Sam Kiley of Swansea; Aled Williams of Neath; Gethin Robinson of Newport; Sam Williams of Aberavon; Jonathon Vaughan of Bridgend; Craig Hawkins of Llanelli; Dan Godfrey of Pontypridd; Jason Harries of Carmarthen Quins; Rob Nash of Cross Keys; Shaun Powell of Cardiff and Lloyd Phillips of Llandovery and Ross Wardle of Bedwas ©Huw Evans Picture Agency
The Principality Premiership kicks-off this weekend with all 12 teams in action on Saturday.
Arguably the tie of the opening weekend sees last year’s league champions Pontypridd take on SWALEC Cup winners Cross Keys.
Ponty travel to Pandy Park knowing they face a real challenge on the opening weekend against the side that finished sixth last year and beat them in the Cup final but coach Dale McIntosh is confident ahead of the game.
“Across the board we’ve got a stronger squad this year,” he said.
“We’ve got 32 players who will push for selection week in week out so selection is going to be tough.
Speaking of Cross Keys, McIntosh added: “They’re a club on the up and had a tremendous season last year so we’ll have to take our A game there and if we do that it will take a good side to beat us.
“If that side is Cross Keys then hats off to them.”
Ponty’s opponents are equally confident though with Cross Keys captain Rob Nash knowing his side will be marked men after their success last year.
“In previous years when I’ve played for Cross Keys people haven’t expected much from us so this year is going to be different,” Nash said.
“They know what to expect, they know we’re a good team so expectations are going to be a lot higher and teams are going to pick up their game against us.
“We have to adapt to that so we’ll have to be on the top of our game if we want to retain the cup and win the league.”
Elsewhere on the opening weekend, Bridgend take on Llanelli with Bridgend captain Jonathon Vaughan looking for revenge after two losses to Llanelli last year.
“Llanelli were one of the few teams that beat us twice last year so we really want to go out and get that win against them this year,” he said.
“Last season was our first back in the Premiership and we’ve done well to be within the 12 this year so our aim is to build on last year.
“This year we’re aiming to push forward and get into the top half of the table.”