Preview: Scarlets v Leinster

Date published: October 15 2015

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Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has named Canadian Rugby World Cup star DTH van der Merwe in the starting line-up for Friday's fourth round PRO12 clash with Leinster at Parc y Scarlets.

Winger van der Merwe is set to make his Scarlets debut just a week after Canada were knocked out of the pool stages of the World Cup, a campaign in which he scored a try in all four of his country's clashes.

He is one of four changes to the Scarlets backline that secured victory over Zebre a fortnight ago. 

Aled Thomas comes in at full-back, for Jordan Williams, whilst there's a new half-back pairing of Aled Davies and Steven Shingler with Rhodri Williams and Dan Jones moving to the replacements bench.

Kirby Myhill is the only change in the pack with Emyr Phillips suffering from a hamstring strain.

Ryan Elias and Tom Williams come on to the replacements bench.

Speaking earlier this week Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: "We didn't perform well out in Zebre and then we had to contend with another week's break. In terms of improvements from the last performance we've talked about it and very much put Zebre to bed.

"This is a critical game to maintain our position in that top four group. We obviously want to stay top for as long as we can but for us top four is a new era really.

"Playing at home is a big thing for us. We've already won a home game against an Irish side this season, and performed reasonably well, and most definitely want to repeat that.”

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made five changes in total to the XV that started the Round Three game against the Dragons, which Leinster won 37-13, with two changes in the backs and three in the forwards.

There is no change to the back three with Isa Nacewa captaining the side from full-back and Garry Ringrose and Fergus McFadden occupying either wing. 

All three players were on the scoreboard last time out with McFadden in particular impressing off the tee with six kicks from six attempts.

It's a Clontarf midfield combination of Noel Reid and Colm O'Shea. O'Shea comes in for Ben Te'o who doesn't travel having picked up a minor knock at training on Wednesday. 

In the half-backs Isaac Boss wins his 125th cap for Leinster while outside him Ross Byrne starts his first game for the Irish province having come off the bench on two occasions already this season. 

Bryan Byrne makes his first start of the season at hooker having come off the bench against Edinburgh and Cardiff, with Irish internationals Michael Bent and Marty Moore either side.

With Mike McCarthy called up to the Irish Rugby World Cup squad, Tom Denton comes back into the second row to partner Ross Molony. 

The final change sees Dan Leavy start for the second time this season in place of Rhys Ruddock who has also been called up to the Irish squad. Dominic Ryan starts at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier completing the pack at openside.

Among the replacements Jamie Hagan will win his 50th cap for Leinster should he make an appearance off the bench, while Wexford man Tony Ryan is in line to make his debut having impressed for the Leinster 'A' team against Munster 'A' last week. Another Clontarf man Mick McGrath is also in line for his first game of the season if called upon.

Form: Scarlets have won their last seven PRO12 matches, their best-ever run in the tournament.The Welshmen's only defeat at Parc y Scarlets in the PRO12 since Boxing Day 2013 was to Edinburgh last March. Leinster have lost just one of their last five PRO12 encounters: 9-16 to Edinburgh at Meggetland in Round One, whilst their only away victory in any competition since January was also against Edinburgh, at Murrayfield in May. Scarlets' 23-13 victory over Leinster in this equivalent fixture in Round 17 last season ended a six game losing run to the Irish province in all tournaments. Scarlets have not won back-to-back matches against Leinster since 2004.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Regan King, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay (c), 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tom Price, 4 George Earle, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil John, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Tom Phillips, 20 Jack Condy, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Tom Williams.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa (c), 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Colm O'Shea, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Garry Ringrose, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Dan Leavy, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Tom Denton, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Michael Bent. 
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Tony Ryan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Mick McGrath.

Date: Friday, October 16
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Greg Morgan (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)

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