European half century for captain Owens

Menna Isaac News

Scarlets will take on Leicester Tigers in the second round of the Heineken Champions Cup on Friday, 19thOctober, and captain Ken Owens will make his 50thappearance in the top flight European competition.

Owens made his debut as a replacement against Ulster, one of Scarlets’ Heineken Champions Cup oppositions this season, in Belfast in January 2007.

The 31-year-old will lead the Scarlets to the field on Friday night as they look to kick-start the campaign after a disappointing one-point defeat to last season’s finalists Racing 92 at Parc y Scarlets last weekend.

Welford Road hasn’t been happy hunting ground for the Scarlets in the history of the competition but the West Wales region will be looking to overturn their fortunes tomorrow.

Injuries have once again forced head coach Wayne Pivac’s hand with changes amongst the forwards and backs from the starting XV that took to the field against the French side on Saturday.

The front row remains unchanged with international props Wyn Jones and Samson Lee lining up alongside Owens. Jake Ball hasn’t recovered from a leg hematoma in time to take his place in the second row with former Leicester Tiger Tom Price coming in for his first start of the season. Back rower Blade Thomson, named in Scotland’s squad for the autumn internationals yesterday, moves across to the blindside flank, Will Boyde moves to number 8 with Josh Macleod, who made his 50thregional appearance last week, coming in to the openside.

A ruptured ACL, suffered in his first start for the Scarlets on Saturday, sees Angus O’Brien sidelined with Dan Jones coming in to the fly half position. Gareth Davies, Steff Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, Jonathan Davies and Leigh Halfpenny remain unchanged with 20-year-old Ioan Nicholas coming in on the wing for the injured Johnny McNicholl.

Looking ahead to the clash against Leicester Tigers Picac said; “Both sides probably haven’t hit their straps for various reasons. Certainly for us it’s a little bit disruptive due to injuries. They’ve obviously got a mixed bag going on at their end aswell. Playing at home I expect them to be a tougher opposition than they seemed to be for Ulster last weekend.

“We know it’s a tough place to go on a personal experience. It’s a fresh opportunity for us, we want to get straight back out there and turn around some of the disappointment from last Saturday, Hopefully we’ll get some good conditions. We want to get out there play some rugby and put them under some pressure.”

Scarlets side to take on Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, Friday 19thOctober, KO 19:45;

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens ©, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Tom Price, 5 David Bulbring, 6 Blade Thomson, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Will Boyde

Replacements; 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Paul Asquith

Unavailable;Steve Cummins, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, Jonathan Evans, Aaron Shingler, Rhys Patchell, Tom Prydie, Kieron Fonotia, Rob Evans, Angus O’Brien, Johnny McNicholl, Jake Ball