Scarlets’ switch can make Ioan Lloyd a contender for Wales
With the iconic Wales No 10 jersey up for grabs post-World Cup, Ioan Lloyd is a young man on a mission as he heads into the new BKT URC season.
He hasn’t figured on the international stage since he was fast-tracked in to make his Test bow as a teenager in the autumn of 2020.
But, having come home from England to join the Scarlets, he is now aiming to force his way back into the Wales set-up at fly-half.
That position is there to be grabbed with Dan Biggar having just retired from international rugby and Gareth Anscombe unavailable for the Guinness Six Nations due to his move to Japan.
Fellow Scarlet Sam Costelow is the front runner, having figured at the World Cup, while Ospreys playmaker Owen Williams is another contender, along with the likes of Callum Sheedy. But Lloyd is determined to put himself in the mix.
The twice-capped 22-year-old had the opportunity to stay at Bristol – who he had been with since 2018 – but signing a new contract would have made him ineligible for Test duty under the WRU’s 25-cap rule. So he headed across the bridge and down west to Llanelli.
“My biggest dream has always been to play for Wales and the opportunity to come back and play for a club like the Scarlets was just too good to turn down,” he explained.
“I looked at the game-plan Dwayne Peel is putting together and it really appealed to me. I feel like it benefits my game and I’m very excited to be here. It’s closer to home for me as well, which is nice. I can get mam’s cooking again and all that!”
During his time with Bristol, the Cardiff-born and raised Lloyd featured in every position behind the scrum, but he is clear where he sees his future lying.
“No 10 is my main position and that’s the one I want to play,” he said.
“As a fly-half, you need to know what everybody else on the pitch is doing. So playing in different positions over the last couple of years, I have been able to see things through other people’s eyes and hopefully that makes me a better player.
“The rich history of 10s here at the Scarlets is unbelievable. To be able to put on that jersey and try and put my own little mark on it, I can’t wait.”
Lloyd’s desire to play at fly-half for his new team will see him competing with Costelow, who figured in four of Wales’ five matches at the World Cup in France.
“Sam is an unbelievable player,” he said. “He’s someone I’ve played with a lot through the years at age-grade. Hopefully we can benefit each other and help each other out and I can learn a lot off him and maybe he will learn a bit off me. I am excited for that dynamic and to challenge each other.”
Lloyd was just 19 when he was called up by Wales in 2020, making his Test debut as a replacement full-back against Georgia and then having a further outing there off the bench versus Italy.
“It went very quickly. It does feel like quite a long time ago now,” he admits.
“I have reflected a lot more now on it. To be honest, I learned so much through doing that, by getting that experience. It highlighted elements of my game that I have worked on since.
“At the time, I was definitely not an international player, but it gave me the confidence that if I work hard enough, I can get there. I have worked a lot on my defence, my decision-making and my game management since then.
“I feel like I have had to grow up quite a lot over the last few years, which has been good.”
Lloyd has also bulked out, having gone up from the 82kgs mark when he first started at Bristol to around 92kgs today.
Now, with a new frame and a new beginning, his ambitions are evident.
“I still very much want to play for Wales. Getting into the Six Nations squad would definitely be my target,” he says.
To achieve that goal, he has to shine for a new team in a new league as he embarks on the Scarlets’ BKT URC campaign, which kicks off with back-to-back games in South Africa against the Vodacom Bulls and the DHL Stormers.
“I have watched the BKT URC and everything it was before that for so long now,” he says.
“I can’t wait to get going in it and have the new challenge of playing against Leinster and these different teams that have done so well over the years. I am really excited to get going.
“Obviously the first two games are in South Africa which will be an amazing experience.”
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