Rugby League: Kevin James looking forward to his first WRL derby
Kevin James is looking forward to his first Welsh Rugby League derby when South Wales Scorpions take on North Wales Crusaders at The Gnoll in Neath this Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
The 31-year old Scorpions centre is famous for being a try scoring winger with Neath RFC, was the top try scorer in the WRU Principality Premiership in three different seasons and is also one of a select band of players to notch up 100 tries in that competition’s history.
Now he has enjoyed try scoring exploits in the 13-man code in his very first season playing the sport and can’t wait to see if he can cross the line again on Sunday against the North Wales side.
“We’re all excited and personally I’m looking forward to it, to test myself, which is always what I’m looking to do,” he said. “We need to get a win more importantly. We haven’t had much luck recently and our performances if I’m honest need to be improved. However we also haven’t had the rub of the green at times. So hopefully we can start well, like we did against London last week, but this time build on it, and with a big crowd down there, enjoy the game and get the win.
“The boys are a bit down at the moment as performance levels haven’t been as they should. It’s not for the lack of trying, we’ve been disrupted through injuries and an unsettled team for the last few weeks. After we had those back to back wins against Rochdale it’s a been a bit disjointed, boys coming in and out.
“On the other hand I’ve been really impressed with the local youngsters who have come in. Luke Kell and Osian Phillips for example have come up from the under 18 side to play in the last couple of games and I think Osian played 70 minutes last week.
“The club is looking good for the future and it’s been a bedding in season for us. Hopefully we can benefit from that next season and hopefully we can push for the title next year – I think we’ll be in with a chance.”
James, the brother of Ospreys prop Paul, spent 11 years with Neath RFC in two different spells, and played in the Heineken Cup with the Welsh All Blacks. When the regions were formed, he signed for Newport Gwent Dragons, then spent two years at Cornish Pirates in England before returning to Neath in the Welsh Premiership. At international level, he has played for Wales Rugby Union at Sevens, Students and under 16, 18, 19 and 21 age grades.
With all this experience behind him, he has played in many derbies, but none that encompasses a whole country.
“I’ve played in some big derby games, from internationals to regional to club level,” he says. “When I was at Cornish Pirates, the big games were against Penzance or Exeter, then there’s Neath v Aberavon so I’m used to rivalries and derby games. I think it brings the best out of players as everyone wants to improve and lift their game and get one over their rivals.
“This one is a bit different as it’s South v North and that’s something a bit special. Everyone will want to play well, not just to win the game as there will be players in both teams with aspirations of making the Wales side. A match in the spotlight like this will be a good game for players to show their talent. We’ve got the link with Wigan so if boys perform you’re in the window there too.
“But primarily it’s about winning the game and that’s what we want to do, and if I can get over the whitewash too, then it’ll be a bonus for me.”