European Rugby Champions Cup: Scarlets v Leicester Tigers


Ken Owens played his first game for Scarlets at number eight against Dragons on 5 January
European Rugby Champions Cup: Scarlets v Leicester
Venue: Parc y Scarlets Date: Saturday, 12 January Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: BBC local radio commentary and live score updates on the BBC Sport website

Wales hooker Ken Owens will again pack down at number eight for Scarlets who have a back-row injury crisis.

Josh Macleod is fit to take his place as a replacement after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot which has ruled him out for two months.

Matt Toomua captains Leicester from fly-half while Gareth Owen faces his former region as he partners Kyle Eastmond in Leicester’s midfield.

Wales international Josh Holmes lines up on the wing.

Wales wing Steff Evans returns to the Scarlets side in place of Ioan Nicholas after being omitted for the past few weeks.

Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies starts at scrum-half after being rested last weekend.

British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies is rested and is replaced by Kieron Fonotia, who missed the win over the Dragons.

Leicester’s Tonga international Valentino Mapapalangi is named in the number eight shirt for his first senior appearance since early November and there is also a place for England Under-20s international Joe Heyes at tighthead prop.

England scrum-half Ben Youngs is named among the replacements, while England quartet George Ford, Jonny May, Ellis Genge and Dan Cole are all rested.

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac praises Ken Owens after the hooker’s impressive display at number eight

Leicester have a mathematical chance of Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final qualification but could be out of contention if Ulster defeat Racing 92 in the earlier pool fixture.

“Scarlets have a very strong record at their own stadium and they will want to put on a show at home,” said head coach Geordan Murphy.

“We have to focus on our own performance and back-up on the positives from recent weeks.”

Scarlets are out of the knockout stages equation after losing their first four matches.

“It is about putting on a performance at home we are going to be proud of,” said Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac.

“There is a lot of pride at stake and we do have a good home record over the last couple of years we would like to maintain.

“It is an English team coming down playing against a Welsh side so there is a lot of history. They are an excellent side who have a great record in this competition.”

Scarlets: McNicholl; Asquith, Fonotia, Parkes, S Evans; D Jones, G Davies; R Evans, Elias, Lee, Helps, Bulbring, Kennedy, D Davies, Owens (capt).

Replacements: M Jones, W Jones, Gardiner, T Price, Macleod, Hardy, Hughes, Nicholas

Leicester: Worth; Holmes, G Owen, Eastmond, Olowofela; Toomua (capt) White; Bateman, Kerr, Heyes, Wells, Kitchener, M Williams, W Evans, Mapapalangi.

Replacements: McMillan, Gigena, Feao, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, B Youngs, J Ford, Aspland-Robinson

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