Wales and British & Irish Lions prop Wyn Jones makes his first start since October as Scarlets complete their EPCR Challenge Cup pool campaign against Aviron Bayonnais in the South of France on Saturday (1pm UK; S4C).
Jones made his comeback from a knee injury when he came off the bench in last weekend’s narrow win over Toyota Cheetahs and is one of four personnel changes to the starting XV for the lunchtime clash at the Stade Jean Dauger.
For a third successive week, the back three and centres remain unchanged. There is, though, a switch at half-back with Sam Costelow and Gareth Davies coming in for Rhys Patchell and Dane Blacker.
Jones, one of five Scarlets named in Warren Gatland’s squad for the forthcoming Six Nations, packs down in the front row with fellow Lion Ken Owens – Wales’ new captain – and tight-head Javan Sebastian, who has been included in Scotland’s squad for the Championship.
Vaea Fifita shifts to the second row to partner Sam Lousi, allowing the experienced Aaron Shingler to return in the back row alongside young talents Dan Davis and Carwyn Tuipulotu.
Sione Kalamafoni has sat out his two-week suspension so is named on the bench, while Wales international scrum-half Kieran Hardy is also selected among the replacements.
Scarlets currently lead Pool B and go into the match knowing a win, draw or two bonus points will be enough to secure them top spot and a top seeding in the knockout stages. Scarlets are already guaranteed a home draw in the round of 16.
Head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Obviously, if you look at the sides at the top of the two pools and with the Champions Cup teams dropping down as well, the quality of the competition in the knockout stages is going to be very high so securing home qualification is very important. That was obviously one of the main targets after the first two rounds. We want to win again this weekend and ensure top spot, but we realise it is going to be a difficult ask against a Bayonne side at home who have been going well in the Top 14.”
Scarlets team to play Aviron Bayonnais at Stade Jean Dauger on Saturday, January 21 (13:00 UK time; S4C)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl; 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies (capt), 11 Steff Evans; 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Javan Sebastian, 4 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Sione Kalamafoni, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Unavailable because of injury
Scott Williams, WillGriff John, Ryan Elias, Ryan Conbeer, Josh Macleod, Blade Thomson, Tom Rogers, Alex Jeffries, Phil Price, Tom Price, Johnny Williams, Callum Williams, Samson Lee.