The Scarlets will field a mix of this season’s exciting new West Wales talent with some experienced international performers pulling their Scarlets shirts back on ready for the big Scarlets v Ospreys derby.
Stephen Jones makes a welcome return back to Scarlets colours in the pivotal role of outside half after his landmark achievement of becoming Wales’ most capped player in the World Cup..
Hooker Matthew Rees, who returned from injury last week off the bench, captains a side which sees Wales’ World Cup centre sensation Scott Williams start alongside bright new talent Adam Warren who is rewarded for his recent performances at centre after achieving four tries in four games.
Other World Cup returners include Tavis Knoyle who starts at scrum-half with Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies opting for some international X-factor on the bench with Ken Owens, Jon Davies, George North and Tongan international Sione Timani all named in the Scarlets 23.
Scottish international Sean Lamont returns to start on the wing for the Scarlets with Liam Williams, another of the Scarlets’ new generation also getting his just rewards for his committed and eye-catching form with a starting place on the opposite wing.
The Scarlets go into the high-profile Bonfire Night fixture on the back of four wins in a row with a strong performance at home lst time out against a full force Ulster team winning 24-17 in the RaboDirect PRO12 league.
The Ospreys have lost their last three games in all competitions but have been defeated only once at the Liberty Stadium in their last 12 matches in the league. Ospreys have won their last six encounters against their close neighbours. The Scarlets previous victory at Liberty Stadium came in September 2007 when the Scarlets won 14-9.
Scarlets team against Ospreys 5th November 2011, Liberty Stadium kick off 6.30pm:
15 Daniel Evans, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Iestyn Thomas, 2 Matthew Rees (capt), 3 Rhys Thomas, 4 Dominic Day, 5 Damian Welch 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Rob McCusker, 8 Ben Morgan.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Phil John, Rhodri Jones, Sione Timani, Richie Pugh, Rhodri Williams, Jon Davies, George North.
Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies said: “This is always a big game for the players and our supporters, we also have the added big picture of Europe just around the corner as we kick off our Heineken Cup campaign next Saturday at Parc y Scarlets against Castres.
“A number of our internationals came back into training on Thursday this week, so it’s been a short turnaround and competition for places tight but my view has been that if they’re keen and fit both mentally and physically to play then they’ll feature in this game.
“There’s a real energy around our environment at the moment, on the back of some momentum which the team has built now and it’s great to see all the boys getting back together and motivated as a Scarlets group for this game.
“Steve (Jones) has been very keen to go this week and get his hands on the Scarlets 10 shirt and to have someone of his stature, calibre and experience so motivated for us to get onto the field is a big positive.”
Davies added that it’s not a time to think about last season’s Ospreys derbies. “We can’t afford to become too emotional – or think back about the game at the Liberty last Christmas; it hurts of course, but we have just concentrated on the detail that will allow us to perform to our potential. It’s about this season – this weekend’s fixture and then the return big Boxing Day game back with us at Parc y Scarlets.
“We know the Ospreys are a difficult team to play against, the results show that – it’s a big challenge for us away from home but we will give it everything we have got and we know we have some quality coming back to us this week which gives us added options.
“The strong performances by some of our new generation of Scarlets who have been showing up well while our internationals were away has made selection very difficult. We said to the group at the start of the season we wanted to create that competition – that there were no guaranteed places and to a large extent, that’s happened which can only be good for us in the long-run.”