Preview: Clermont v Scarlets

Date published: December 6 2013

Wales internationals Rhys Priestland and Liam Williams return to the Scarlets lineup to face Clermont in the Heineken Cup on Saturday.

Wales internationals Rhys Priestland and Liam Williams return to the Scarlets lineup to take on Clermont in the Heineken Cup on Saturday.

Having started the European campaign with a defiant 26-33 three-try victory over English Premiership side Harlequins and a 26-26 draw against big spending Racing Metro at Parc y Scarlets the West Wales region head to France looking to make an impact with Clermont safe-guarding a 67 home win record.

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby has told his players to face the challenge head on and to go out with a positive winning mentality and confidence backing up the good work from the opening two rounds.

“It is a real challenge but one that the team is ready and up for,” said Easterby.

“Our history in Europe against French teams shows we can cause an upset.

“The camp is in a good frame of mind and energy and spirits are running high after a good week's training.

“We're really positive about going there, it's a phenomenal challenge but records are there to be broken. It's a great contest for the players and for us as a young coaching group and a fantastic opportunity for us all to be a part of.”

The Scarlets are currently at the top of Pool Four with six points as they head into the third round.

International hooker Emyr Phillips will lead the Scarlets in the European campaign this weekend with centre Jonathan Davies, back-row Rob McCusker and prop Phil John on the sidelines with injuries.

Ken Owens and young newly-capped Rhodri Williams are named on the replacements bench.

Nick Reynolds partners Scott Williams at centre with captain Davies out through injury as well as Gareth Maule.

Meanwhile, Clermont boss Vern Cotter has named ex-Scotland second-row Nathan Hines in his starting lineup to make his 80th Heineken Cup appearance.

He is joined in the pack by fellow experienced European campaigners Julien Bonnaire and Benjamin Kayser, who boast 60 and 54 Heineken Cup “caps” respectively.

Lee Byrne faces several of his ex-Wales team-mates at full-back, with veteran France centre Aurelien Rougerie skippering the side from midfield.

In-form All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu starts on the right wing, with Fijian powerhouse Napoleoni Nalaga named on the opposite side.

Regan King will leave Clermont for a second spell at Parc y Scarlets come the end of the season, but faces off against his former side on Saturday from the inside centre position.

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 12 Regan King, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Clément Ric, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic , 22 Mike Delany, 23 Noa Nakaitaci

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Frazier Climo, 13 Nick Reynolds, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 George Earle, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Johan Snyman, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Adam Warren,

Date: Saturday 7th December
Venue: Stade Marcel Michelin
Kick-off:1435 local, 1335 (GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Martin Fox, Kevin Stewart (both England)