Rhys Patchell: Wales international aims to shine at 10 for Scarlets

Rhys Patchell
Rhys Patchell won his first Wales cap against Japan in 2013

New Scarlets signing Rhys Patchell hopes to become the region's first-choice fly-half having been given assurances he will play at 10.

Patchell, 23, featured at full-back for Wales in New Zealand in June and did so for his former side Cardiff Blues.

But Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac says the 23-year-old is "here to play 10".

Patchell wants a run of games at fly-half to "find some form and try to guide us around the park".

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Scarlets confirmed the signing of the Cardiff Blues youth product in December 2015.

The Blues' recruitment of Gareth Anscombe had meant Patchell had to switch between fly-half and full-back.

But Pivac sees his future at 10 with Patchell having Wales Under-20 fly-halves Dan Jones and Billy McBryde as well as Aled Thomas as rivals.

"Rhys is here to play 10. He certainly brings a lot of speed to the position, his positional play in terms of taking the ball to the line - he's a genuine threat at 10," said the New Zealander.

Wayne Pivac
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac is a former Fiji coach

"He's got a big kicking game, he's got a nice passing game and at training he's directing the troops around the field.

"He's a real communicator so, so far with Rhys, it's been very positive.

"He's a very confident and bright guy, which is what you want in a 10. They are there steering the ship."

'Awesome summer' with Wales

Patchell made his debut for Wales against Japan in 2013 and returned to the Test fold after three years during this summer's tour of New Zealand.

Having been on holiday, the former Ysgol Glantaf pupil from Cardiff was thrust into action as he started the second and third of Wales' three Test defeats.

"The summer was awesome. It was a really great experience and I'm thoroughly grateful for the opportunity I got out there," said Patchell.

Seta Tamanivalu of New Zealand tackles Rhys Patchell on Wales' June 2016 tour
Seta Tamanivalu of New Zealand tackles Rhys Patchell on Wales' June 2016 tour

"To go from doing absolutely nothing for two weeks to having to run eight and a half kilometres in a Test match was a bit brutal, but there's plenty to take on board.

"Hopefully, the lessons we learnt will stand us in good stead come this campaign. It was great but it's gone now.

"It's what any young player in Wales, be it in Division Three or whatever, you have that ambition to play for Wales and it's always in the back of your mind, but you are also aware that only comes if you perform in the regional jersey."

Inspiration from Stephen Jones

If Patchell is looking for inspiration in his bid establish to himself as a Scarlets and Wales fly-half, he need not look far.

Former British and Irish Lions 10 Stephen Jones, who won 104 caps for Wales, has returned to the Scarlets - for whom he represented for 14 years over two spells as a player - as backs coach.

"I'm running around in training wondering: 'What does Steve think of this? Am I doing the right thing?' That can make it hard to switch off at night.

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"But there's a lot of good, experienced voices around that you can take advice off," said Patchell.

"It's up to us as outside-halves in the squad to tap into that resource of knowledge, because you don't get 100 caps for Wales without being half-decent at what you do.

"Steve's been great, really welcoming, as have all the management.

"Our defence coach Byron Hayward was also a fine fly-half, so there's plenty of experience and knowledge to tap into."

Self-confessed 'rugby nerd'

While Patchell is relishing the expertise at his disposal at Parc y Scarlets, he has also learnt from watching his opponents - particularly on the tour of New Zealand - as well as studying players from the past.

"There's plenty to learn from watching videos of [former Australia fly-half] Stephen Larkham, [former Italy fly-half] Diego Dominguez, all these great fly-halves," Patchell added.

"There's an awful lot, at 23, I have to learn and the more sources of information I can get a hold of, the better for me - I'm a bit of a rugby nerd."

Scarlets opening Pro12 fixtures 2016-17
Saturday, 3 Sept: Scarlets v Munster (15:00 BST, Scrum V highlights)
Friday, 9 Sept: Edinburgh v Scarlets (19:35 BST, BBC Alba & Scrum V highlights)
Friday, 16 Sept: Ulster v Scarlets (19:05 BST, BBC Two Wales, BBC NI & Scrum V highlights)

As an antidote to his voracious rugby viewing, Patchell does have interests outside of his sport - though he admits it can be difficult to switch off completely.

"I'm very bad if you ask anyone close to me. The guitar and the piano or I'll go back and coach the under-14s at CRICC (Clwb Rygbi Ieuenctid Caerdydd, his local Welsh language junior club in Cardiff)," he said.

"Although it's rugby, it's different - it's for the enjoyment of the game.

"You see the enjoyment on the kids' faces, they're rolling around in the mud for an hour on a Sunday morning. It's a lot of fun."

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