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  Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 15:07 GMT
Playing through it all

It's been a strange week to say the least. For Swansea it was great to finally get a win on the board, but that's been sidelined by the latest round of political arguments in Wales.

It doesn't matter who your boss is, so long as they're competent

It's tough to concentrate as a player, but the coaches have instilled in us that it doesn't matter what's happening off the pitch, we just have to concentrate on the job in hand.

There's talk about cutting back and amalgamating so you can only ensure that you and your club are left in the best possible position.

Players are worried about losing their contracts, but in a professional environment that's always going to happen - no matter what job you're in.

It's not easy to accept when you have some good friends in the game, but if you're not good enough to make it at the highest level you have to take a step down.

If I was asked to play for a north Wales province, that's how it would have to be - although I may have to take some thermals with me!

People ask whether there will be much of a difference if the Union wrests control of the game from the clubs.

They already pump a lot of money into the Premiership and consequently have a big say in the management of the players. It doesn't matter who your boss is, so long as they're competent.

Union control could mean players being asked to move clubs, or even them leaving the Welsh game altogether, but at the end of the day you go where the contracts are.

If I was asked to play for a north Wales province, that's how it would have to be - although I may have to take some thermals with me!

It was great to get back to winning ways with the Whites, although we realise that one swallow doesn't make a summer - there's still a hell of a lot of work to do.

Leinster's backs can spin it and penetrate and their forwards are a tough bunch

We showed a lot of patience against Bristol. In previous games we'd been thinking that just because we were at St Helen's we could run teams off the park.

This time we knuckled down and did the dirty work up front.

The autumn international break helped us. We only had a few players away on national duty, giving us a chance to get things together at the club.

There was also a change in personnel, with a new fitness coach coming in and Darren Morris taking over as captain.

Darren Morris
Morris will lead the Whites on
Darren's in a fortunate position. He's a great player who's well respected and liked at the club, and he has around him myself, Mark Taylor and Scott Gibbs - who have all captained Wales.

Scott will continue to give it his all on the pitch, but as he's just started a new job he felt that - after five years - it was time to wind down his off-field commitments.

We'll do our best at Bristol on Saturday, but we're under no illusions about our chances of qualifying in the Heineken Cup. We intend to get things right at the club, and there's a long way to go in the Welsh Premiership and Principality Cup.

There are a number of teams shaping up well for the European challenge. Gloucester have impressed me, but the ones I've seen up close have been Leinster.

They had a fantastic win out in Montferrand last week and when they came to St Helen's they looked the complete outfit.

Their backs can spin it and penetrate and their forwards are a tough bunch.

They should have done enough to secure a home quarter-final - and that can be crucial in Europe.


Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

EUROPEAN STATISTICS
See also:

06 Dec 02 | Sports Talk
24 Nov 02 | BBC Pundits
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