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Hewett will lead the way.

Byline: By RICHARD THOMAS South Wales Echo

Scarlets boss Gareth Jenkins has revealed the signing of All Blacks prop Dave Hewett is just the start of a concerted recruitment drive at Stradey Park.

Hewett is due to arrive in Wales by the end of the week with Jenkins insisting there will be more new faces in the regional side before the end of the season.

'There will be more signings before the season is up, although there are no details on those at the moment," confirmed the director of rugby.

With 17 of the current Stradey Park squad out of contract at the end of the 2004-2005 campaign there seems plenty of room for new blood in the ranks.

And close to the top of the shopping list will no doubt be a star outside-half.

The Scarlets are aware that they have failed this season to fill the boots vacated by Stephen Jones's departure to French side Clermont Auvergne.

But Jenkins has started his drive in the front row where he admits he has a lot of younger players coming through.

And he is looking at the recruitment of 33-year-old Hewett, who is eligible for Celtic League but not the Heineken Cup, as a two-tiered signing.

'We have taken a longer view of what our needs are,' explained Jenkins.

'We are aware of the qualities Dave Hewett has. One of them is that he is a winner. He has played 22 times for New Zealand. This is a guy who knows what it takes to get to the very top.

'He plays both sides of the scrum and that is very important for us. We have got an encouraging bunch of front rowers in the region

'In the next two or three years we have got, potentially, international rugby players here but, at the moment, they have to have a role model they can attach themselves to.

'So they are able to understand what they need to play at the top end of world rugby.

"Dave is coming here with an extended role. He's not only coming here to affect our performance - which I think he can do, but he is coming over here for the next two years as a role model for the development of our front-row forwards."

Hewett's first spell with the Scarlets will last two months until he has to return to play Super 12 rugby with Canterbury Crusaders. And then he will be back in August to begin a two-season contract.

It could be that Hewett is drafted on to the replacements bench for the Celtic League clash with Ulster at Stradey Park on Sunday evening if he arrives as early as tomorrow.

For that match Llanelli have made three personnel changes from the 40-26 reversal in Glasgow last Friday.

Most notably, Salesi Finau returns from concussion to play at inside centre with Matthew Watkins unavailable.

In the pack Aled Gravelle replaces Matthew Rees at hooker, while at lock Chris Wyatt returns in place of Vernon Cooper.

Arwel Thomas returns to the Scarlets 22.

He is joined on the bench by his former Swansea team-mate Mark Taylor.

Scarlets: B Davies; G Evans, T Selly, S Finau, A Havili; G Bowen, M Phillips; P John, A Gravelle, J Davies, A Jones, C Wyatt, J Mills, D Hodges, G Thomas. Replacements: A N Other, M Rees, V Cooper, A N Other, C McDonald, Arwel Thomas, M Taylor.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 25, 2004
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