Preview: Scarlets v Castres

Date published: November 11 2011

Castres have named a strong line-up for their Heineken Cup Pool 1 opener at the Scarlets this Saturday, with Chris Masoe included.

Castres have named a strong line-up for their Heineken Cup Pool 1 opener away to the Scarlets on Saturday, with Chris Masoe included at flanker.

The former All Black is in a powerful back-row trio that includes Iosefa Tekori and Steve Malonga while French international Luc Ducalcon is at 3.

The hosting Scarlets will reach another significant landmark in their colourful heritage as the first Welsh region to play 100 Heineken Cup games.

They are the fifth outfit to reach the feat and join some distinguished company including the likes of Toulouse, Munster, Leinster and Leicester.

One of the leading figures of the Heineken Cup tournament, Stephen Jones, plays in his 79th European appearance, taking up ten position.

Wales' Six Nations captain and Scarlets skipper, Matthew Rees starts at hooker, alongside props Rhys Thomas who has put in some impressive performances this season, along with another experienced European campaigner, Iestyn Thomas in his 52nd European game.

George North, one of the stand-out young players of Wales' World Cup campaign, starts in his first European fixture on the wing with other World Cup internationals Jon Davies, Sean Lamont, Tavis Knoyle, Stephen Jones and Scott Williams all starting in the backs division.

“This tournament is where you pit yourselves against the best and it's the competition that all of us are excited by and look forward to. We go into the game have gained some momentum and with some bonus point wins under our belt,” said head coach Nigel Davies.

“There's a great 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.

“The key has been working hard on areas of our game that we knew this season we needed to build on and that showed in our performance last weekend against the Ospreys who could not out-muscle us; I was really encouraged to see the focus we've placed on the contact area, our defensive game and set piece work coming through in the performance.

“Our challenge is to marry those areas of our game up front with the style and brand of rugby we know we can play.

“We know Castres are very physical as most French sides are and will be difficult to play against and they have some good players in their team. The battle will be on physicality and drive and the boys know that.

“I'm excited about the quality and depth we have building here at the Scarlets; we seen some really great potential and talent from a number of our new young Scarlets and if we can get our set piece functioning we know what potential we have in attack behind the scrum.”

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jon Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Richard Pugh, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Daniel Evans.

Castres: 15 Romain Teulet, 14 Matthieu Nicolas, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Iosefa Tekori, 7 Steve Malonga, 6 Chris Masoe, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Matthias Rolland, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Anton Peikrishvili.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Michaël Coetzee, 18 Karena Wihongi, 19 Scott Murray, 20 Jannie Bornman, 21 Thomas Sanchou, 22 Pierre Bernard, 23 Pierre-Manuel Garcia.

Date: Saturday, November 12
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Greg Garner (England)