Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

11th January 2013 08:50

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Scott Williams scarlets

Scott Williams: Replaces Jonathan Davies in Scarlets midfield

Scarlets coach Simon Easterby and his side are keen to beat Leinster in Saturday's Heineken Cup tie in Dublin to make up for last weekend's loss to Ulster.

Regardless of results to date this season in Europe, Easterby revealed that the Scarlets had no interest in making up the numbers and will only be focused on winning their games in the Heineken Cup.

"We're entering into two Heineken games one against the reigning champions, then next week against one of the top two or three sides in the competition (Clermont) so in three games we've played against some of the very best in Europe," he said.

"These games show us where we are as a group; equally they're important in terms of making a mark to get us back on track for our season ahead.

"As coaches and players we respect this tournament, our supporters and what our region has achieved so we'll only ever being going out in the next couple of weeks to try and win two games - that will never change."

Easterby added that a growing injury list and with a few players carrying bumps there were some positional changes to his side for their game against Leinster.

"We've been struggling with injuries after an intense last six weeks and we've picked 10 backs for the match day squad from 11 that are currently available in our list of 18 backs for Europe.

"We also have only three out and out back rowers to choose from this weekend.

"That said, the boys have been working very hard this week, there's lack of commitment or effort or will to go out this weekend to Ireland and cause a shock."

Easterby has made six changes to his side, including a positional switch, that were beaten by Ulster at Ravenhill.

Amongst the backs, Liam Williams replaces Dan Newton at full-back and Andy Fenby comes in on the wing for George North who is still recovering from a back and neck injury.

The only other change in the back-line sees Scott Williams replacing Jonathan Davies at inside centre.

Up front, captain Rob McCusker moves from number eight to blindside flank while George Earle and Ken Owens take over from Sione Timani, and Emyr Phillips at lock and hooker respectively.

McCusker's place at the base of the scrum is taken by Kieran Murphy, who comes into the run-on side for Johnathan Edwards.

Meanwhile, Leo Cullen leads a star-studded Leinster side which includes 14 Ireland internationals for the visit of the Welsh region.

Cullen partners Devin Toner at second row with Sean O'Brien set to make his 30th European appearance in a back-row which also features Shane Jennings and number eight Jamie Heaslip.

Kevin McLaughlin misses the game with a shoulder knock but is expected to be available for the Round Six clash away to Exeter Chiefs on January 19.

The front row is unchanged from the side which started last weekend's bonus point victory over Edinburgh in the PRO12, so Cian Healy will make his 108th appearance for his home province alongside Sean Cronin and Mike Ross.

In the back-line, Isaac Boss partners Jonathan Sexton at half-back with Gordon D'Arcy continuing at centre alongside the returning Fergus McFadden who was rested last weekend, while Isa Nacewa is recalled to an experienced back-line which also features Luke Fitzgerald - who makes his 105th Leinster appearance - and last year's European Player of the Year Rob Kearney.

Brian O'Driscoll, who made his comeback last weekend, is being managed and is named on the replacements bench alongside fellow Ireland internationals Michael Bent, Eoin Reddan and Rhys Ruddock.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Heinke Van der Merwe, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Brian O'Driscoll.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Andy Fenby, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Rob McCusker (capt) 5 Richard Kelly, 4 George Earle, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Johan Synman, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Jonathan Davies, 23 Adam Warren.

Date: Saturday, January 12
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 18.00 GMT
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

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