The opening round of the 2020/21 PRO14 season sees 2016/17 finalist Munster and Scarlets face off at the Parc y Scarlets.
Scarlets Teams News:
It promises to be a big day for the Davies brothers on Saturday with Jonathan poised for his first Guinness PRO14 run out in 17 months and James set to make his 100th appearance for the Scarlets. Wales and British & Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies last featured in the competition in the play-off defeat to the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in May 2019. He returned from a long-term knee injury in last weekend’s warm-up match against the Ospreys and comes into the side to face Munster at Parc y Scarlets as one of three personnel changes from the European Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Toulon.
In the back three, promising youngster Tom Rogers will make his first PRO14 start at Parc y Scarlets after impressing in recent weeks. The 21-year-old Cefneithin product will feature on the wing in place of the injured Johnny McNicholl. Leigh Halfpenny, fully recovered from the head knock he picked up in the south of France, and Steff Evans make up the rest of the back three.
With Johnny Williams ruled out because of illness, Davies partners Steff Hughes in midfield, while Dan Jones and Gareth Davies are at half-back. The pack shows one change from the eight that took the field at the Stade Mayol with experienced South African international Werner Kruger replacing Samson Lee at tight-head prop. Lee is ruled out after picking up a head knock in training this week
Kruger packs down alongside skipper Ken Owens and Wyn Jones; Jake Ball and Sam Lousi combine again at lock, while Blade Thomson, Sione Kalamafoni and Josh Macleod continue in the back row. Once again, Phil Price, Ryan Elias, Javan Sebastian, Lewis Rawlins and James Davies provide forward cover.
Having made his debut seven years ago, Davies is poised to become the latest player to reach the century milestone for the Scarlets if he comes off the bench. Behind the scrum there is a welcome return for Wales international fly-half Rhys Patchell who has recovered from a calf issue. Kieran Hardy and Tyler Morgan make up the rest of the replacements.
Munster team News
In the back three, full-back Mike Haley and Darren Sweetnam make their first Guinness PRO14 appearances since February with Andrew Conway starting on the right wing. Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership with Craig Casey and JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.
James Cronin, Rhys Marshall and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne, who faces his former side for the first time, in the second row. Captain Peter O’Mahony, Jack O’Donoghue and CJ Stander complete the starting XV.
Greencore Munster Rugby Academy out-half Ben Healy is among the replacements.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Darren Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Gavin Coombes, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Steff Hughes, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Blade Thomson, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Tyler Morgan.