Ken Owens: Scarlets, Wales and Lions hooker ends 11-month absence with Carmarthen Quins game

Ken Owens has played 82 international games for Wales and five Tests for the British and Irish Lions

Scarlets and Wales hooker Ken Owens has returned from injury for Carmarthen Quins against Swansea in the Welsh Premiership.

Owens, 35, has been sidelined with a back injury for 11 months.

The British and Irish Lions hooker played the first half as Swansea eventually beat Quins 24-10.

“It was a good 40 minutes, I was a little puffy and it was just nice to be back on the pitch,” Owens said,

“Just getting hit and being hit. The plan was to have 30 or 40 minutes… coming here is one of the reasons I’ve been able to control playing time and see what happens in the next few weeks.

“It was good to come back to play, to be back in my home town of Carmarthen.

“I am grateful to the Quins for giving me the opportunity to regain my fitness.

“I wouldn’t say Quins was my home club because I’m a Carmarthen Athletic lad.

“But this city means a lot to me and everyone from both clubs has given me overwhelming support.

“It was good to be back and see some old faces and do a bit for the city.”

There was a minute’s silence before the match to mark the sad passing of prop partner Carmarthen Quins Ben Leung.

“There was a little tragedy around the club this week which was very sad,” Owens said.

“The club were so supportive and we were disappointed not to get the result.”

testing time

Owens last played for the Scarlets in October 2021 against Leinster in the United Rugby Championship [URC].

After being initially selected for Wales’ autumn international opener against New Zealand in October 2021, Owens pulled out of the game with his back problem and has not played since.

He admits nearly a year on the sidelines has been test.

“It’s been slow and frustrating,” Owens said.

“A lot of times there have been question marks as to whether I will return to play and I probably haven’t gone too far from making that decision.

“I always said that I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to get back on the pitch, because I think I would regret it if I didn’t in the years to come.

“I turned the corner about two or three months ago and really saw a progression.

“It was good to be back today and hopefully raise our hands for selection with the Scarlets in the coming weeks.

“I have to show what I can do in training to earn my place. I’ll take it day by day and see where we are. I’ve ticked a box now by getting back on the pitch and we’ll see where he is. goes.

“I haven’t set any public goals. I know what I would like to achieve in my head and I will work towards it, and we will see where we are in the weeks and months to come.”

Owens will always have hope to compete in a fourth World Cup in France next year.

This Carmarthen Quins appearance should serve as a springboard for him to return for Scarlets in the coming weeks in the URC.

After the 55-39 defeat against Ulster Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “This (coming back) will be important for him.

“I think Ken will tell you himself four or five months ago that he was struggling, but to be fair to him he turned it around massively and worked really hard.

“Whenever he gets the chance with us, I’m sure he’ll do a great job.”

Charles P. Patton