New signing Tom Varndell has been thrust straight into the Scarlets squad for Friday night’s rearranged top-of-the-Conference Guinness PRO14 clash with Leinster (7.35pm).
The four-times capped England wing has arrived in Llanelli this week on a short-term contract until the end of the season and has been named among the replacements for the game at Parc y Scarlets, which was postponed last weekend because of the wintry conditions.
With Corey Baldwin on Wales Under-20s duty, Ryan Conbeer – who scored a brilliant individual try on his PRO14 debut against Ulster last time out – is handed his first start on the wing.
Elsewhere, on-loan Dragons prop Phil Price starts in place of Dylan Evans, who misses out because of illness, while the selection of James Davies for Wales’ Six Nations match against Italy on Sunday means head coach Wayne Pivac has had to reshuffle his back row.
Josh Macleod switches from No. 8 to openside with Will Boyde coming in at No. 8.
The back-row will have the task of trying to halt British and Irish Lion Sean O’Brien, who makes his much-anticipated comeback from a hip injury for Leinster.
O’Brien skippers a side that includes Kiwi star James Lowe, man of the match against the Scarlets in Dublin last month, as well as Ireland squad member Jack Conan.
Just three points separate the sides at the top of Conference B, with the Scarlets looking to maintain a proud home record in the league stretching back to the opening game of last season.
“We have six points (from the last three games) and if we can pick up more points against Leinster we will be very happy with this block given the circumstances with injuries as well as Welsh selections,” said Scarlets head coach Pivac.
“After this Leinster game, we get the internationals back and then it is the run-in and it has come around very quickly, it is an exciting time.”
As for dealing with the threat of former Super Rugby star Lowe, who scored two tries and created another in Leinster’s 20-13 victory at the RDS in February, Pivac added: “He is a quality player, he is a big guy, with a lot of power and how he played against us, he has been doing that in Super Rugby for the last couple of years against quality opponents.
“We know what he is capable of and some of our guys experienced that first hand (at the RDS).
“He is someone we have to take care off otherwise he is going to cause us all sorts of problems again. Leinster have a lot of threats and we have to be make sure we are on our game.”
Welsh official Nigel Owens will referee the game.
SCARLETS: Tom Williams; Ioan Nicholas, Paul Asquith, Steff Hughes (capt), Ryan Conbeer; Dan Jones, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, Ryan Elias, Werner Kruger, Steve Cummins, David Bulbring, Tadhg Beirne, Will Boyde, Josh Macleod.
Replacements; Emyr Phillips, Rhys Fawcett, Simon Gardiner, Josh Helps, Lewis Rawlins, Declan Smith, Ioan Hughes, Tom Varndell.
LEINSTER: Dave Kearney; Barry Daly, Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy; Ed Byrne, Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy, Jack Conan, Sean O’Brien (capt).
Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Adam Coyle, Mick Kearney, Max Deegan, Charlie Rock, Ciaran Frawley, Adam Byrne.