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'Invaluable' Alex Craig signs new Scarlets deal

By Josh Raisey
LLANELLI, WALES - DECEMBER 15: Alex Craig of Scarlets wins the ball in lineout during the EPCR Challenge Cup match between Scarlets and Black Lion at Parc y Scarlets on December 15, 2023 in Llanelli, Wales. (Photo by Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images)

Scarlets have confirmed that lock Alex Craig has signed a new deal with the club one year after joining.

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The 27-year-old was named the players’ player of the year after his first season at Parc y Scarlets, having arrived from Gloucester last summer. 

Craig capped off a brilliant season, where he was the United Rugby Championship’s third-highest tackler with a success rate of 96 per cent, by being called up to Gregor Townsend’s Scotland squad for their July tour.

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Kyle Steyn reflects on his rugby journey

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Kyle Steyn reflects on his rugby journey

He will hope to add to his two caps over the coming weeks against Canada, the USA, Chile and Uruguay.

The Scot will be rivalled by new signing Max Douglas for a second-row berth next season. The Australian is one of many signings alongside the likes of Marnus van der Merwe, Alec Hepburn, Ellis Mee, Max Douglas, Henry Thomas and Blair Murray.

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“I thoroughly enjoyed my first year in Llanelli, the players, staff and supporters made me feel really welcome and it was great to get out there and play a lot of rugby after a couple of frustrating seasons with injury,” Craig said.

“We didn’t get the results we wanted, but there’s a great bunch of boys at the club working hard to turn things around. We have a young, exciting squad with some new faces coming aboard and I’m looking forward to linking up with the boys again after the summer tour ready to go again next season.”

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Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel added: “Alex had a big first year for us and being named player of the season by his fellow players was a deserved reward. I have spoken of him being an ‘old school’ lock, a player who gets round the field, carries aggressively and has high ruck numbers – his contribution has been invaluable this season.

“His recall to the Scotland squad is an indication of how well he has performed in a Scarlets jersey and we wish him well for the upcoming summer tour.

“For Alex to re-sign with a club is another statement of intent for the coming season. We have made some really positive signings and retained key personnel as well. We are back in at the start of July and then the likes of Alex and our other internationals will join us a bit later as preparations ramp up for the new campaign.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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