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Ryan Elias Ready To Take Down Best Mate As Wales Set Sights On Scotland

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By David Williams

Ryan Elias is hoping to have a front row reunion with lifelong pal Javan Sebastian after the Edinburgh tighthead was added to the Scotland squad this week following the withdrawal of his Edinburgh colleague WP Nel.

Wales hooker Elias and Sebastian go all the way back to playing together with the U11s at Carmarthen Athletic.

They played together right through the age grades, graduated from the Scarlets academy, and played professionally together at Parc Y Scarlets.

Now, they could go head-to-head at Principality Stadium on Saturday in the opening round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations if they both get included in the matchday squads.

“We played together at Carmarthen Athletic, Carmarthen Quins, Wales U18, in the Scarlets Academy and at the Scarlets,” said Elias.

“I love Javan to bits and I first started playing with him at the age of 11. We played together all the way through and he’s a very close friend of mine.

“I have a great deal of respect for him, and I’m delighted to see him playing week in, week out at Edinburgh. He’s now getting to where we all thought he could get to.

“He didn’t drive for years, so I was his taxi back and fore to Carmarthen from Llanelli. I used to give him words of encouragement because I knew how strong he was and how good a player he was.

“It took longer than it should have for him to get to where he is now, but now he’s there he is fulfilling his potential.

“I’m sure he’ll have a word or two in my ear if we get to play against each other – but he’ll get a few back as well!”

Elias now has 38 caps to his name and is vying with the 46-times capped Elliott Dee and the uncapped Evan Lloyd for the No 2 jersey in the Championship.

Sebastian, who was born in England, raised to Wales and now has six Scotland caps thanks to his Scottish father.

While the 29-year-old Sebastian is now pushing Zander Fagerson and Elliot Millar-Mills for the tighthead spot in the Scotland team, Elias is just doing his best to stay ahead of the youngsters who have been drafted into the Wales squad in the wake of the 2023 World Cup.

“There are a lot of young, new faces, which has been great, and they bring a lot of energy to the sessions. They all want to learn,” said Elias.

“It was a bit odd in the first day or two. You’re so used to seeing the old boys and experienced heads that have been there for years – I remember watching people like Dan Biggar growing up.

“It’s exciting and almost refreshing in a way. Other boys get the chance to step up. They want to push to make game days and to be playing and it has been very competitive in training.

“People might not be giving us much of a chance because there have been so many changes but for us as a group, we’re just concentrating on ourselves and putting in a performance we can be proud of.

“We’ve worked hard in the last week and a half in preparation for the first game. Scotland are a great side with a big pack. They’re big, physical men, and they’re clinical as well.

“They’ve got so many stars in their backs – Finn Russell, the centres, Van der Merwe on the wing. There is firepower throughout, so we’ve got to be on our game.”

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