Scarlets welcome back Johnny McNicholl for Toulon showdown

Rob LloydNews

Johnny McNicholl makes his comeback from injury for the Scarlets crucial European Challenge Cup pool showdown with Toulon at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday evening (8.00).

McNicholl missed the derby wins over the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues because of an ankle injury but he has been passed fit to take his place in a side showing three changes from the win at the Arms Park last time out.

McNicholl, who made his international debut for Wales last month, replaces Ryan Conbeer on the wing in the only change behind the scrum and links up in a back three that includes Leigh Halfpenny and Steff Evans.

Steff Hughes and Hadleigh Parkes continue at centre for the fourth successive match, while Angus O’Brien again gets the nod at fly-half in partnership with Gareth Davies.

Samson Lee has recovered from illness which forced him to withdraw from the Blues match and the tight-head prop is recalled into an all-Wales international front row with Wyn Jones and skipper Ken Owens.

At lock, Sam Lousi, another who was sidelined because of illness last weekend, replaces Tevita Ratuva, who is named among the replacements. The back row of Aaron Shingler, Josh Macleod and Uzair Cassiem is retained.

There are a number of changes on the bench with Werner Kruger and Ratuva dropping down from the starting XV.

Wales international loose-head Rob Evans has overcome a neck issue and plays for the first time since the win over Bayonne in mid-December, while Dan Jones has been cleared to play after picking up a rib injury against the Dragons at Rodney Parade before Christmas.

Jones, who turned 24 this week, is poised to make his 100th appearance for the Scarlets.

After four rounds of European action, Toulon lead Pool 2 (18pts) by four points from the Scarlets (14pts). London Irish, Scarlets’ opponents next weekend in Reading, are seven points further back (7pts).

Tickets are available for the match at

SCARLETS (v Toulon; Saturday, January 11, 2020; 8pm ko)

15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Uzair Cassiem.

Reps: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Jac Morgan, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Paul Asquith.

Unavailable because of injury

Jonathan Davies (knee), Rhys Patchell (shoulder), James Davies (back), Kieron Fonotia (calf), Blade Thomson (back), Dan Davies (foot), Joe Roberts (knee).