New signings handed URC debuts against Bulls

Rob LloydNews

New signings Alex Craig, Ioan Lloyd and Taine Plumtree will make their BKT United Rugby Championship debuts in Sunday’s round one clash with Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria (2pm UK time).

There is also a first URC start for 21-year-old No. 8 Ben Williams, whose only previous URC appearance came off the bench against Edinburgh last season.

Despite missing their Wales World Cup contingent and Tonga international Vaea Fifita (suspended), Scarlets are still able to name a match-day squad containing 12 capped players. Of the 23, a total of 15 players came through the Scarlets pathway.

Johnny McNicholl, Tom Rogers and Ryan Conbeer provide the running threat in the back three.

Centre Joe Roberts has recovered from a knee injury and partners Jonathan Davies, who will captain the side.

Lloyd wears the No. 10 jersey and links up with Wales international scrum-half Kieran Hardy at half-back.

Kemsley Mathias, Shaun Evans and Sam Wainwright pack down in the front row; Evans has recovered from a concussion that kept him on the sidelines for the Cardiff and Dragons friendlies.

Scotland international lock Craig starts in the second row alongside Sam Lousi who has returned to Scarlets duty following his World Cup campaign with Tonga.

In the back row, Plumtree starts at blindside, Dan Davis at openside, with Williams getting the nod at eight.

On the bench, 19-year-old hooker Isaac Young and fly-half Charlie Titcombe are in line to make their first appearances in the URC.

British & Irish Lion Wyn Jones is also included among the replacements, along with scrum-half Archie Hughes, who starred for Wales U20s at this summer’s World Championships In South Africa.

Scarlets team to play Vodacom Bulls on Sunday, October 22

15 Johnny McNicholl; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies (capt), 11 Ryan Conbeer; 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Kemsley Mathias, 2 Shaun Evans, 3 Sam Wainwright, 4 Alex Craig, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Taine Plumtree, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Ben Williams.

Reps: 16 Isaac Young, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Wyn Jones, 19 Jac Price, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Archie Hughes, 22 Charlie Titcombe, 23 Ioan Nicholas.

Players unavailable

Ken Owens, Samson Lee, Josh Macleod, Dan Jones, Steff Evans, Vaea Fifita, Ryan Elias, Gareth Davies, Sam Costelow, Johnny Williams.