Scarlets braced for Leinster
February 20, 2009
Felipe Contepomi is looking for a win at Parc y Scarlets © Getty Images
The Scarlets coach Nigel Davies is under no illusions as to the task facing his team when they host the Magners League champions, Leinster, on Saturday night at Parc y Scarlets.
"Leinster come to us with a strong 22," he said. "They have a powerful squad with quality overseas players so they'll be very competitive indeed this weekend.
"Given the space, time and opportunity, Leinster can be as good as any side - and I know they want to retain their Magners League title - so expect a tremendous effort from them at Parc y Scarlets."
Davies views this game as hugely important in the context of his team's season.
"A couple of months ago the coaches and players spoke in detail as a group about ensuring that, by mid-February, we'd be competing strongly for the league title. I'm glad to say that, with five home games - including Leinster - and three away trips to come, we're still very much in the chase," he said:.
"It's very important that we do well in this competition so it follows that it's important we do well in this weekend's game. At the top now, any team which puts together a run of wins can start to pull away - and that's what our squad is very focused on doing.
Shane Jennings has recovered from the injury that sidelined him from Ireland 'A' action last weekend and leads Leinster against the Scarlets.
Malcolm O'Kelly partners Trevor Hogan at second row with Rocky Elsom starting at no 8. In the backline, Gordon D'Arcy will partner Fergus McFadden at centre, with Isa Nacewa joining Shane Horgan and full-back Girvan Dempsey in a strong-looking back three.
Scrum-half Paul O'Donohoe makes his first competitive start for the province and partners Felipe Contepomi at half-back. Contepomi sees Saturday's game as crucial in their quest to retain their title.
"We know from our experiences last year how important it is to take points during the Six Nations. We have a difficult run in to the season with six away games out of our last nine games in the Magners League and Heineken Cup, but it was our away form last year that gave us the platform to win the title.
Scarlets: Stoddart; Daniel, King, Davies, Jacobs; Priestland, Roberts; Thomas, Owens, Manu, Reed, Day, Cooper, Easterby (captain), Lyons.
Replacements: John, Schwalger, Turnbull, McCusker, Cattle, Evans, Thomas
Leinster: Dempsey; Horgan, McFadden, D'Arcy, Nacewa; Contepomi, O'Donohoe; Healy, Blaney, Wright, Hogan, O'Kelly, Jowitt, Jennings (captain), Elsom
Replacements: Jackman, McCormack, Toner, Keogh, Keogh, Sexton, Brown