Scarlets relishing challenge of star-studded Sharks

Rob LloydNews

Dwayne Peel says his Scarlets are relishing the challenge of a international-studded Cell C Sharks side at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (5pm).

The Sharks will come armed to their sharpest teeth from South Africa in the shape of 10 Springbok internationals. 

The home side do give a welcome first start to Wales centre Johnny Williams after almost seven months, but head coach Peel has readied his side for a physical battle.

“They have got seven, eight Springboks – and probably more – who are world-renowned names,” said Peel ahead of the BKT URC Round 16 match, which is being televised live on S4C.

“We know it’s going to be a very physical battle. Their Springboks have been in camp for a while and they have a home draw in the Heineken European Cup next week, which they are gearing up for as well. 

“So, it’s going to be a very big challenge for us. Whenever you play South African sides, regardless of what names are on the team-sheet, you know you have to reach a level of physicality, be error-free and also be able to put pressure on them.  

“We played the Bulls here not long ago, they also brought some big names and it was a great game of rugby.” 

The Scarlets are without rested Wales captain Ken Owens, Wyn Jones, Rhys Patchell and Leigh Halfpenny, but scrum-half Kieran Hardy does figure after his Wales efforts and he is on the replacements bench. 

Flanker Aaron Shingler, out since January, also returns and is named alongside Hardy on the bench. 

The Sharks’ international strength runs from head to tail with an entire Springboks front row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit. 

Eben Etzebeth starts in the second row, with Springboks captain Siya Kolisi packing down in the back row behind him. 

Fellow internationals Jaden Hendrikse and Curwin Bosch are the half-backs, while Bok centre Lukhanyo Am partners Rohan Janse van Rensburg in midfield. World Cup winner Makazole Mapimpi is also back at left wing to take the Springboks representation into double figures. 

But they have not always been the sum of their valuable parts this season and currently stand seventh in the table after an inconsistent run of results. 

“It’s a huge challenge, but we have talked about that this week and the way we need to approach this game and I can say we are looking forward to it,” adds Peel. 

After the Sharks, Peel’s side have a European Challenge Cup date at home to Brive in the last 16 of the tournament, before resuming URC duties away at Glasgow and the Dragons to complete their season. 

It means Saturday’s home game against the Sharks will be the last chance for Scarlets fans to see their team in league business before October.

S4C: Saturday – 4.45pm: Clwb Rygbi – Scarlets v Sharks 

Live coverage from Parc y Scarlets of the BKT United Rugby Championship match between the Scarlets and Cell C Sharks. 

English commentary available.