Josh Macleod will take the Scarlets captaincy this Saturday, when they resume the season’s campaign after a well-earned break.
The Scarlets return to face Benetton in their next Guinness PRO14 clash at Stadio Monigo, Saturday 16th of February, KO 17:15 (GMT).
Benetton, currently stand in second place in Conference B table, with Leinster still defending their top positioning.
Both internationals, Rhys Patchell and Steff Evans have been released from the Welsh Six Nations camp this week.
Patchell, takes his place on the bench, with Evans on the left wing at number 11.
Leigh Halfpenny was not considered for the fixture against Benetton Rugby, this weekend.
Although Leigh, has returned to full training, it was collectively decided that he should continue training fully with the hope he will be available for selection in the imminent future.
Reflecting on his team’s history with the opposition ahead of this weekend’s game, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac, said: “They’re an improved side, last year in the same window they beat us at their play. They’ve got a side now that with added few players is adding a bit of spark. A couple of good wingers on the outside giving them a bit of power out there. Also, pace; their fitness levels have improved, they’re playing a lot more rugby, using the ball a lot more and with that, they’re going to pose a big threat!
“They have some big men, as we found earlier this season, they were a man down and they caused us a lot of problems. They play direct at times and then move the ball around sometimes, so they’re asking a few questions to the defence. We’re gonna have to make sure we bring a lot of physicality to this game and more of what we’ve been seeing in the Six Nations.”
Commenting on injury comebacks, Pivac, went on to say: “We’ve got a few back, which is pleasing. Lewis Rawlins is back training and managed every aspect yesterday and so he came through his injury and therefore is available for selection, which helps out Blubring, who has been ruled out since the Leinster game, giving us three fit second rows.
“Will Boyde is back training with us and also Uzair Cassiem ran well yesterday. This gives us another option after Ed Kennedy picked up some trouble with his hamstring, which then gives us 3 fit loose forwards.”
Pivac, explained his current thoughts on the PRO14 Table: “It’s exciting, we would much rather be where we were this time last year, but we’re not and that’s reality. We’ve got four teams going hard for realistically two slots and I think there’s only two points separating those four teams. Every game now is a vital one and we have to fight for every point. Whether that’s an extra try to get 5, or to come within 7 and get one. Every point is going to be vital when we wash up at the end of the season.
“We are doing a lot of things right, we are improving as a group and we’re playing without a lot of big names and getting ourselves in positions where we can win these games. We’re not far off, we believe if we can accumulate enough points over the next 3 weeks, we can get some of the big boys back; some of the injured boys back and we’ve got a pretty good run on in the last month.”
Scarlets team to take on Benetton at Stadio Monigo, Saturday 16th February, kick-off 17:15 (GMT):
15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 1 Phil Price, 2 Marc Jones, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Josh Helps, 5 Tom Price, 6 Josh Macleod ©, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Uzair Cassiem
Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Jon Evans, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Steff Hughes
Injury updates: James Davies – Foot, Tom Phillips – Hamstring, Steve Cummins – Shoulder, Blade Thomson – Concussion, Angus O’Brien – Knee, Aaron Shingler – Knee, Taylor Davies – Hamstring, Ryan Conbeer – Ankle, Ed Kennedy – Hamstring, David Bulbring – Ankle/Knee, Corey Baldwin – Ankle, Leigh Halfpenny – Concussion