The Scarlets will travel to Dublin on Friday 17th February to take on Leinster at the RDS in a crucial game for the West Wales region in their play-off aspirations.
In a welcome boost to proceedings the Scarlets welcome back five internationals that have been released by Wales and England respectively for the region’s crunch match against Leinster on the weekend.
Table topping Leinster have lost only lost two games in this season’s RaboDirect PRO12, 27-3 against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium and 19-23 against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS, both early on in the season.
The Scarlets will be looking to secure crucial points in their RaboDirect PRO12 play-off aspirations as they currently sit in seventh position on 34 points. With only five points separating the teams in third to seventh position the West Wales region are fully aware of the importance of the Celtic tie at the RDS.
Head Coach Nigel Davies said that the team’s performance against Leinster will have to show improvement on the last two fixtures with the squad having worked hard throughout the week to eradicate any errors in their game, he said: “We’re going to the RDS with every intent to win the game and having the opportunity to welcome back a few fresh faces will give us a boost.
“We know we have a lot of work to do from here on in. We’ve dropped off the standard a little bit and we’ve been disappointed in the last two performances against Sale and Glasgow.
“We’ve been very hard on ourselves this week but in saying that we are competitive in every aspect in the majority of our games and we just need to ensure that we get back to where we know we can be now on Friday evening.”
The Scarlets are still in all three of their competitions this season – having reached semi-finals of the LV=Cup and a quarter-final of the Amlin Challenge Cup this season.
Scarlets captain Gareth Maule will lead his side which sees six changes to the starting XV from the side that faced Glasgow last week.
Liam Williams and Stephen Jones come in at wing and outside half respectively after returning to training this week from Wales’ Six Nations preparations with Adam Warren and Viliame Iongi providing cover on the bench alongside scrum half Liam Davies.
Welsh international Scott Williams returns to partner captain Maule in the centre fresh from his cameo appearance at the Millennium Stadium against Scotland on the weekend.
Prop Rhodri Jones, who has been released from the Welsh squad for the weekend replaces the injured Iestyn Thomas at loosehead with Deacon Manu returning from injury at tighthead. Phil John and Peter Edwards provide front row cover on the bench alongside former Llanelli RFC Craig Hawkins.
Kieran Murphy gets the nod at number eight with Scarlets’ 206th international Ben Morgan providing cover on the bench as one of 15 who have been released by England for the weekend’s fixtures.
Scarlets team to play Leinster Friday 17th February 2012 kick off 7.35, RDS: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Gareth Maule ©, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Stephen Jones, 1 Rhodri Jones, 2 Emyr Phillips, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Sione Timani, 5 Dominic Day, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Kieran Murphy
Replacements: 16 Craig Hawkins, 17 Phil John, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Viliame Iongi.