Scarlets: Hooker Ken Owens targets a top four finish

Ken Owens goes over for a try against Exeter Chiefs
Ken Owens has been capped 26 times by Wales

Scarlets hooker Ken Owens says the region are targeting a top four finish in the Pro12.

The west Wales side head into the season under new head coach Wayne Pivac, who replaced Simon Easterby.

Owens, 27, says the region needs to perform at a high level to improve on their sixth-place finish and stay in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

"Last year we were just inconsistent, we'd have one good performance followed by a poor performance," he said.

"That's something we've got to improve on this year and really drive forward."

Scarlets open their Pro12 campaign against Ulster at Parc y Scarlets on 6 September.

Owens hopes the region can get off to a winning start and finish the season in the play-off places for the first time since 2013.

"The biggest one [target] is maintaining the top-six place that we got last year, to continue in the top competition of Europe," said the Wales hooker, "and obviously to push forward and get into that top four."

The European Rugby Champions Cup, which replaces the Heineken Cup, gets underway on 17 October and Scarlets face a tough start to the new competition when they travel to last season's Heineken Cup winners Toulon two days later.

Owens says the team has not been focused on the ongoing row between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union, which looks set to be resolved this week, and have prepared for the start of the new season in the usual way.

"From a player point of view we've just continued to work hard in the pre-season and get ready for the start of the year," said Owens.

"We can't control what's happening in the politics of the game so we've just concentrated on the rugby and getting on with it."

Despite being one of nine players reportedly set to sign a new dual contract as part of the proposed new agreement, Owens maintains he has not been contacted by anyone about it.

"I haven't spoken to anybody about it," said Owens.

"I'm under contract with the Scarlets anyway so I know where I'm playing next year for the season."