Blade Thomson returns for Scarlets’ Benetton test

Rob Lloyd News

Scotland international Blade Thomson returns to the Scarlets side for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 round six clash with Benetton at Parc y Scarlets (7.35pm).

Thomson, part of the Scots’ World Cup challenge in Japan, will make his first appearance of the season in a starting XV showing four changes from the team that beat Toyota Cheetahs in Llanelli last Saturday.

The former Hurricanes forward slots in at No. 8 in place of Uzair Cassiem, who drops to the bench. Elsewhere in the pack, Taylor Davies comes in for Marc Jones at hooker.

Davies packs down in a front row that includes Phil Price and Wales international Samson Lee. Lewis Rawlins and Steve Cummins again get the nod in the second row.

Behind the scrum, Johnny McNicholl has recovered the ankle knock that forced him off late on against the Cheetahs and starts at 15 with Steff Evans and Corey Baldwin taking the wing spots.

Baldwin replaces Ryan Conbeer out wide to make his first PRO14 start of the campaign.

In midfield, Paul Asquith has recovered from the facial injury he sustained against Zebre in round three and is reunited with skipper Steff Hughes in the centre, while Dan Jones and Kieran Hardy continue their half-back partnership.

Prop Werner Kruger will make his 100th appearance for the Scarlets if he comes off the bench.

Kruger, who joined the Scarlets in 2016, will complete a remarkable hat-trick of centuries in professional rugby having played more than a hundred times for both the Bulls Super Rugby side and the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.

Loan signing Ryan Lamb could also make his first appearance for the Scarlets senior side. The former England A international has been named among the replacements for the first time.

Scarlets (v Benetton, Sat Nov 9; 7.35pm kick-off)

15 Johnny McNicholl; 14 Corey Baldwin, 13 Steff Hughes (capt), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Phil Price, 2 Taylor Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 5 Steve Cummins, 6 Ed Kennedy, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Blade Thomson.

Reps: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Juandre Kruger, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Kieron Fonotia.

Unavailable because of injury

Tom Prydie (hamstring), Joe Roberts (knee), Dan Davis (foot)