Preview: Racing 92 v Scarlets

Date published: January 15 2016

Racing 92 have moved Dan Carter to inside centre for their game against Scarlets in the Champions Cup at Stade Yves du Manoir on Sunday.

In his place comes Remi Tales who joins Mike Phillips in a new-look half-back pairing. Casey Laulala, Brice Dulin and Louis Dupichot earn starts.

Changes are also made up front as Antoine Claaseen and Bernard le Roux start in place of Chris Masoe and Wenceslas Lauret at numbers eight and seven respectively, while the rest of the pack is unchanged with Ben Tameifuna, Dimitri Szarzewski and Eddy Ben Arous the front-row.

Meanwhile, Scarlets hooker Ken Owens captains the side for the second time in this season’s Champions Cup campaign in a new look front-row with loosehead prop Phil John lining up alongside the captain and international tighthead Samson Lee.

George Earle makes a return to the starting XV having recovered from a calf injury that kept him sidelined over the festive period; Maselino Paulino joins him in the second-row.

Rory Pitman makes a return from a bicep injury that has kept him out since September, and makes his first appearance in the Champions Cup this season. Aaron Shingler moves to the openside with Morgan Allen named at eight.

Gareth Davies and Steven Shingler line up at half-backs, a combination used against Northampton Saints and Glasgow Warriors in the competition this season, with Regan King also making a return to the starting XV.

With qualification out of the pool not an option for the Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has stated that there is no pressure on his side and it presents itself as a fantastic opportunity for the region’s players to express themselves against some of the world’s very best players.

“Racing are a class side and they’re playing very well at the moment. You’re up against some of the great players in the world. It’s a great challenge for us and that’s the way we’re approaching it,” he said.

“There’s no pressure to win or get points to qualify. Now it’s about what we want to get out of the game. It’s a great opportunity for individuals to step up on a pretty big stage. There’s a lot to play for for individuals.

“We’ll look at options of keeping ball in play and not giving them too many penalties hopefully.

“This is what players want to do is test themselves against the best.”

Form: This will be the fourth meeting between these sides with honours even so far; both sides have picked up away wins and the first meeting (in Wales) was drawn. This is the 5th year in a row that Racing will find themselves at home in the 5th Round of the Champions Cup, however they have lost three of the previous four such matches. Scarlets have lost their last five away games in Europe, only once before (6 games between 2007 and 2009) have they lost more on the spin. The Welsh region have won just once in their last nine fixtures against French sides (L7, D1), however that win came against Racing in France in 2014.

The teams:

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Thibault Dubarry, 20 Chris Masoe, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Henry Chavancy, 23 Johan Goosen.

Scarlets: 15 Mike Collins, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Regan King, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Aaron Shingler, 6 Rory Pitman, 5 Maselino Paulino, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Tom Price, 20 Tom Phillips, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Hughes.

Date: Sunday, January 17
Venue: Stade Yves du Manoir
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest (England), Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)