Leicester v Scarlets team news as 11 Test men start, youngster features at fly-half but injured Wales star still missing

By Mark Orders

Jonathan Davies will lead a Scarlets team containing 11 internationals when they face Leicester Tigers at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Thursday evening (7pm kick-off).

Every player behind the scrum has been capped bar 20-year-old Sam Costelow.

Costelow showed unmistakable glimpses of class in the 55-21 win over Nottingham last weekend, with the former Wales U20s player setting up a try for Steff Evans and directing operations nicely as the west Walians scored at close on a point a minute during the second half.

READ MORE: Forgotten ace sends Pivac a message

There was also one moment in defence that Dwayne Peel would have noted, when the youngster not only stopped an opposition ball-carrier dead in his tracks near the Scarlets line but drove him back as well.

Leicester will be a huge step up, but Costelow will want to impress against his old club and show how much progress he has made since linking with the Scarlets last year.

There is still no sign of Rhys Patchell, who has had a dreadful time with injuries. It’s been reported that he has a thigh problem, but the Scarlets are hoping it isn’t too serious. Wayne Pivac will be watching the situation, too, with Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy unavailable for Wales’ game with New Zealand on October 30 and some uncertainty about whether Gareth Anscombe will be involved after his long-term injury.

Evans will want to give Pivac another nudge after his electric performance against Nottingham.

There is a first Scarlets start for WillGriff John, packing down alongside Rob Evans and Ryan Elias in the front row, while Aaron Shingler partners Tom Price at lock. Dan Davis and Sione Kalamafoni are the only survivors from the starting line-up that Peel sent out in Llanelli last weekend.

Two interesting bench selections see Samson Lee and Scott Williams included among an expanded pool of replacements, with Williams, who returned from the Ospreys earlier this summer, set to make his first Scarlets appearance since the Guinness PRO14 final against Leinster three years ago.

The Scarlets have prepared for the match with a training camp in north Wales.

Head coach Peel said: “It’s been a great week for us. The boys have worked hard and have been enjoying each other’s company which is important. A big thanks as well to Clwb Rygbi Nant Conwy for being fantastic hosts.

“We know it is going to be a step up against Leicester, who are a physical side with plenty of threats, but the boys are keen to get out there and deliver what we’ve been working on in pre-season so far.”

Leicester: Bryce Hegarty; Freddie Steward, Matt Scott, Dan Kelly, Nemani Nadolo; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge (C), Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Calum Green, Eli Snyman, George Martin, Tommy Reffell, Hanro Leibenberg (vc).

Reps: Nic Dolly, Francois van Wyk, Nephi Leatigaga, Cameron Henderson, Ollie Chessum, Gareth Evans, Richard Wigglesworth, Freddie Burns, Juan Pablo Socino, Guy Porter, Kini Murimurivalu, Harry Potter, Hosea Saumaki.

Scarlets team v Leicester Tigers: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Jonathan Davies (capt), Tyler Morgan, Steff Evans; Sam Costelow, Kieran Hardy; Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, WillGriff John, Aaron Shingler, Tom Price, Blade Thomson, Dan Davis, Sione Kalamafoni.

Reps (from): Marc Jones, Daf Hughes, Phil Price, Samson Lee, Josh Helps, Jac Price, Shaun Evans, Tom Phillips, Harri Williams, Dan Jones, Angus O’Brien, Steff Hughes, Scott Williams, Ryan Conbeer, Ioan Nicholas.


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