After his surprise call-up for Wales’ autumn Tests, Kieran Hardy is now settled within the team environment and ready for an international debut against Georgia this afternoon.
Scarlets tyro Hardy is one of four scrum-halves in Wayne Pivac’s squad alongside his regional team-mate Gareth Davies, Rhys Webb of the Ospreys, and Cardiff Blues nine Lloyd Williams.
The junior member of that quartet, Hardy has bided his time in the campaign to date. Now with Georgia arriving at his home ground of Parc y Scarlets, the challenge is to transfer his learnings from the training environment to a match. Hardy admits making a Test bow would be a dream come true.
He said: “It’s been really good to get in with the squad. The boys have all been excellent with me. It’s been a smooth transition and I’ve really enjoyed the first few weeks. I’ve been getting up to speed with the intensity of the training sessions and learning the new calls. It took a couple of weeks to settle in and get used to everything, but I think I’m in a good place and I’m learning every day.
“I’ve learned a lot working with a new set of coaches and new players. You learn a little bit off everyone and I’m just trying to take everything on board.
“That’s especially the case with the group of nines we have with Wales at the moment. They’re obviously quite an experienced bunch so anything I can pick up from them or any of the other players is a positive for me. Hopefully I can get better with the more knowledge I’m picking up.
“[Starting for Wales] would be a really proud day for me, but I’m just making sure I keep my head down and work hard each day at training.
In 2016, Hardy was playing Welsh Premiership rugby for Carmarthen Quins and had previously trained, unpaid, with the Scarlets in a bid to impress at regional level.
Having earned a contract but with his game time limited in Llanelli, Wales’ autumn call-up made the brave decision to step out of his comfort zone and join English Championship side Jersey.
Hardy signed for the Reds in May 2016 and it proved to be the making of the now 24-year-old.
“Training is the only thing I can go by at the moment, but it has definitely been a step up from what I’m used to,” Hardy said. “The intensity of the drills and the transition between drills is a level up from regional rugby. It’s taken a couple of weeks for me to get used to that and be comfortable under the pressure. The more we do in training, the better we are on the field. I’m really enjoying training now I’ve got used to it and hopefully I can live with the intensity if I get the chance to play.”
Hardy grew up on and off the field at Jersey and spent three months playing for the Reds alongside now Wales team-mate and fly-half Callum Sheedy.
He was Jersey’s player of the year in 2018 before returning to the Scarlets where he has benefitted from the coaching guidance of first Pivac, then Brad Mooar and now Glenn Delaney.
“It was just an opportunity to play at a challenging standard every week,” said Hardy when asked how his time in Jersey improved him as a player and person.
Read the full interview and much more in our Wales v Georgia match programme.