Indigo Group Premiership 2022/23 set for kick-off!

The 2022/23 Indigo Group Premiership kicks off next weekend, after a busy off-season. Robert Rees brings you all you need to know ahead of the season kick-off.

Indigo Group Premiership ready to take off

The season kicks off next Saturday, with all games being 2.30pm kick-offs except the televised Pontypridd vs Cardiff.

Let’s take a look at the 12 clubs involved in what should be a cracking season, with the additional bonus of a televised game per round, on S4C Clic/S4C Facebook & YouTube or S4C itself.

Aberavon

Head Coach: Jason Hyatt

Last season: 3rd

Players to Watch: Joe Gage, Rhys Fawcett, Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Callum Carson

Cup draw: Pontypridd, Bridgend

The Wizards will be looking to fighting for silverware again this season after  finishing runners-up in the Premiership Cup and lying 3rd in the table, behind frontrunners Newport and Cardiff. They do the fundamentals well and their pack has arguably more depth than any other side.

If they can finish off teams, they’ll be contenders come the end of the season.

Bridgend Ravens

Head Coach: Tom Smith

Last season:  9th

Players to Watch: Dylan Davies, Luke Price, Ryan Edwards, Ed Howley

Cup draw: Pontypridd, Aberavon

Bridgend have been superb in the transfer market since the end of last season, picking up the likes of Ryan Edwards and Dylan Davies on the field, and Scott Baldwin (forwards coach) off it. If they can progress and close the gap on the top 8, then they could be in for a fantastic season at the newly named Dunraven Brewery Field.

To improve, they must improve in defence. They conceded 276 points last season (9th), only Llanelli doing vastly worse. Keeping tries out in the final quarter or at key times will be the turning point in them winning more games.

Cardiff

Head Coach: Steve Law

Last season: Indigo Group Premiership Champions

Players to Watch: Arron Pinches, Joe Goodfield, Jacob Beetham, Rhys Barratt

Cup draw: Llandovery, Merthyr

Last year’s champions will be looking for a repeat of their fortunes as they head into another season under Steve Law. They can rely on a steady flow of academy players to fill the areas they haven’t quite got full depth in, which could prove vital in key games.

The Arms Park saw just one league defeat last season (Carmarthen) and they comfortably topped the points scored charts (374).

Carmarthen Quins

Head Coach: Marc Jones

Last season: 8th

Players to Watch: Torin Myhill, Haydn Pugh, Ben Leung

Cup draw: Ebbw Vale, RGC

Recruitment has seemed quiet for Quins, who will be keen to close the seven-point gap to 3rd place Aberavon. They have a strong coaching system, some of which have come through their own playing ranks, Nic Reynolds and Rhys Lawrence help keep the system flowing.

Their weakest area is finishing moves in the backline. Only Pontypridd finished above them and managed fewer try bonus points. They have a winnable group in the cup, and with a bit of luck could well finish much higher in the table this season.

Ebbw Vale

Head Coach: Jason Strange

Last season: 11th

Players to Watch: Amir Walji, Evan Lloyd, Jordan Davies

Cup draw: Carmarthen, RGC

Last season, the Steelmen slumped to their lowest position since being relegated over a decade ago – Something Strange set out to change from Christmas onwards, fans seeing a visible improvement in performances.

They’ve added lots of depth to their ranks and seem reluctant on relying on Dragons academy players coming in. If they can get the set piece working again they’ve brought in the firepower to finish off the moves.

Llandovery

Head Coach: Euros Evans

Last season: 4th

Players to Watch: Dino Dallavalle, Jack Maynard, Stuart Worrell, Adam Warren.

Cup draw: Merthyr, Cardiff.

Llandovery rotated their squad superbly last season, bringing in a raft of young talent, whilst ensuring plenty of experience was blended. The result, a strong 4th place finish. However, they could rise even further than that if they improve on just a 20% win rate at Church Bank that they ended up with in the league last season.

They’ve brought in some huge names with Adam Warren making his way west and Jack Maynard returning to the club. A tough draw in the cup means they could very well be focusing on the league for this season.

Llanelli

Head Coach: Phil John

Last season: 12th

Players to Watch: .Nathan Hart, Tom Phillips, Josh Phillips

Cup draw: Swansea, Newport

Llanelli will be looking at some Scarlets’ academy influence to boost their season as they say goodbye to a few key names. Tom Phillips coming in is a shrewd move, and they’ll hope it brings a settled feel to their defence.

They can score, as well as concede, picking up an impressive four try bonus points (ranked 7th). If they can control their possession better and harness this attacking prowess then they could climb up the table a bit this season.

Merthyr

Head Coach: Roland Phillips

Last season: 6th

Players to Watch: Louis Jones, Josh Lewis, Tom Daley

Cup draw: Cardiff, Llandovery

The Ironmen reach into a new era, under new Head Coach Roland Phillips. Despite losing Arron Pinches and Callum Bradbury to Cardiff, Merthyr have signed well, adding Louis Jones and Lloyd Ashley up front and Josh Lewis behind the pack.

They conceded 40 tries, to their impressive 46 scored and lost 4 games by conceding 30 or more points. If they can tighten up in defence and avoid the end of season drop-off that saw them lose three of their final four matches, then they will be back to their best.

Newport

Head Coach: Tyron Morris

Last season: 2nd

Players to Watch: Dan Hill, Josh Skinner, Dai Richards

Cup draw: Llanelli, Swansea

Morris’ side will be attempting a double this season, following a strong league campaign last season to match their first cup triumph in over 20 years. A favourable Indigo Group Premiership cup draw will see them favourites for a semi-final. Their retention has been strong, and so has their transfer window.

Dan Hill and Lloyd Lewis will both be looking to spark up Newport Stadium when given the chance. If they can avoid back-to-back defeats like they saw last season vs RGC and Merthyr then they could well be on for a double.

Pontypridd

Head Coach: Justin Burnell

Last season: 7th

Players to Watch: Ieuan Morris, Tom Harper, Cally James, Rory Harries

Cup draw: Aberavon, Bridgend.

Pontypridd are unfortunate to lose Ben Burnell, as with him they would have been title contenders for sure. Sardis Road is always a difficult place to go, only Aberavon beating them at the ‘House of Pain.’ Their pack is phenomenal, Morris, Harper and Ben Stephens becoming a force to be reckoned in the front row, amongst others.

If they can find a good distributor and playmaker to go in at 10 then they’ll definitely improve on last season’s 7th place finish.

RGC

Head Coach: Ceri Jones

Last season: 5th

Players to Watch: Dan Owen, Ethan Fackrell, Rhys Tudor

Cup draw: Carmarthen, Ebbw Vale

Last year’s most improved side, RGC look a real good prospect for the coming season with a healthy blend of brawn and brain in their side. Ethan Fackrell is a tremendous signing for the North Walian’s and Afon Bagshaw, Tudor and Dion Jones will look to finish the moves off.

If they improve in attack and cut out the errors that slowed them down at the start of the season then they’ll be a formidable task for everyone.

Swansea

Head Coach: Hugh Gustafson

Last season: 10th

Players to Watch: Callum Bowden, Will Hickey, Harri Houston

Cup draw: Llanelli, Newport

Swansea have amalgamated a strong group of coaching staff at St Helens. James Hook joins BUCS Coach of the Year Gustafson as they bid to put a strong talent pool further up the table. They look set to have a large influx of Ospreys’ academy players this season and that could be the difference maker in pushing them up the table.

With Hook at the helm of the backs, expect to see a more varied set of back moves, involving more kicking. Something that let the All Whites down last season.

The Indigo Group Premiership kicks off Saturday.

Indigo Group Premiership

 

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