Support our Nation today - please donate here

Shane Williams and Tom Shanklin pick the Welsh stars to watch in the festive derbies

22 Dec 2022 4 minute read
Rio Dyer (Credit: Inpho Photography)

Shane Williams and Tom Shanklin figured in a host of Welsh festive derbies during their playing days and they are now involved as pundits ahead of the BKT United Rugby Championship holiday programme.

So which players are they particularly looking forward to watching in action for each of the four regions over the next couple of weeks?

Here are the men they have picked out as they prepare for commentary duty with broadcasters Viaplay.

Shane Williams

Cardiff Rugby

It’s good to see Owen Lane back on the wing and scoring tries. I’ve always been a big fan of his and I am looking forward to watching him in some great match-up against the likes of Rio Dyer and Ryan Conbeer.

Rhys Carre is doing really well too and it’s great to see him having answered his critic in Wayne Pivac, while Thomas Young has been one of the top BKT URC performers.

Dragons RFC

I thought Rio Dyer did a great job for Wales in the autumn campaign and I want him to continue that form.

He seemed to be gaining in confidence the more he played and I hope he can bring that confidence to a Dragons team that like to move the ball and get it to the wingers. So I am looking forward to seeing Rio with his hands on the ball in a bit of space.


Kieran Williams is a player I am keen to see have a bit more game-time. He’s been unfortunate with injuries, but I just love his attitude. It’s “Give me the ball, I don’t care what’s in front of me, I will have a go at it”. He puts his head down and tries running over players, but he also showed good feet with the try he scored against Montpellier. I want him to stay fit and see what happens with him.

Ryan Conbeer of Scarlets on his way to scoring a try. Photo


I am a big Ryan Conbeer fan. I was surprised not to see him in the Welsh squad in the autumn. I just love his attitude. He’s strong, he looks like he is half tackled, but breaks out of tackles, he scores tries, he sets players up. So, another winger from me to go with Owen and Rio and I am sure Ryan will be heavily involved over the Christmas period with the way the Scarlets are looking to play.

Tom Shanklin

Cardiff Rugby

I will go for Rhys Carre. Since being dropped out of the Wales squad for the autumn, he has used that as a lot of motivation, so we have had some really big performances from him. He has proved he can go the 80 minutes. He looks fit, he looks hungry. The scrum has been really good for Cardiff. His carrying ability is excellent. He is putting in performance after performance.

Dragons RFC

I am going for another front row forward here in Bradley Roberts. I really like the way he plays. He is really mobile, he’s a great carrier, he’s good over the ball. He might not start for Wales because of Ken Owens, but he could still force his way into the squad. He’s like a little pocket rocket when he gets the ball in his hands and if there’s one thing you need in your team it’s people willing to carry.


Owen Williams coming in is a great bit of business for the Ospreys. He can play 10 or 12. We talked about him being the next 12 for Wales when he started in the autumn back in 2017. He gives you that extra attacking option at 12, which I think is his best position. Coming into that game against Montpellier on the weekend, without playing much rugby, was incredible for him.


There’s a lot of talk about Ryan Conbeer at the moment. He’s a great finisher, he finishes in tight areas, he breaks tackles. Physically, he’s short, he’s compact, a difficult player to get down.

Another Scarlets player I will be looking out for is  Johnny Williams who should be back fit. He was their form player at the start of the season, but then got injured right at the wrong time.

Shane Williams and Tom Shanklin are part of the Viaplay team – bringing every game live from the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.