Angus O’Brien is set to continue to call the shots for the Scarlets as he closes the door on 2019 and looks to brighter days ahead in 2020.
The 25-year-old outside-half suffered a horrific knee injury last season which wrecked his progress at the region and saw him slip firmly down the pecking order in Llanelli.
But now the former Wales Under-20 international is back firing on all cylinders and says the pain of the past will drive him forwards as he looks to stay as first-choice fly-half at his club.
Former Dragons player O’Brien starred as the Scarlets hammered Bayonne before Christmas and he was man of the match in the 44-0 Boxing Day thrashing of bitter rivals Ospreys.
“I did my ACL against Racing 92 last October which ruled me out for the season,” he said.
“It has been tough and I was disappointed to sit on the sidelines last year, but I kept my head down and worked hard.
“I’ve waited for my opportunity and hopefully there will be more to come in the future.
“You have to use injury to get better in certain things and be ready. There are four good 10’s at this region. I’m fully aware of that and rugby is full of highs and lows.”
First-choice Scarlets playmaker and Wales ace Rhys Patchell is currently on the sidelines with a shoulder injury and Dan Jones was also forced to sit out the Ospreys game.
In their absence O’Brien ran the show and further impressed head coach Brad Mooar. He is set to continue in charge of the team against Cardiff Blues on Friday.
“The Ospreys was definitely a high for me,” he said. “I didn’t get to play much last year, but Brad is very positive. He’s given me the confidence to express myself and that’s good for me.
“I can go out there and enjoy myself. Off the back of the Ospreys performance we’ll be going to Cardiff full of confidence and aiming for a result.
“They play some good attacking rugby, but we’ll look at how to stop them playing and at ways to express our game.”
It might have been feared that the announcement of the head coach leaving after just one season in charge would destabilise the side, but that doesn’t seem to have happened at the Scarlets.
Mooar confirmed over Christmas he will join Ian Foster’s New Zealand coaching set-up at the end of the current campaign.
Replacing him is the biggest challenge facing the Scarlets board. They are not short of interest given their team looks in fine fettle.
They are second in Conference B and while the state of the opposition must be taken into account when analysing the Ospreys result, the Scarlets did play some scintillating rugby.
Mooar’s departure hasn’t stopped Liam Williams from signing for next season and Parc y Scarlets is set to resemble a who’s who of Welsh back talent in 2020-21.
Williams, Johnny McNicholl, Leigh Halfpenny, Steffan Evans, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Patchell and Gareth Davies will all be on the books. It is a salivating prospect.
More immediately, they are the only Welsh side who look capable of winning the Pro14.
If they beat Toulon at home on January 11 they must also be considered Challenge Cup contenders.