Skipper Macleod back to lead Scarlets for derby mission

Rob Lloyd News

Club captain Josh Macleod will make his first appearance of the season in Boxing Day’s BKT United Rugby Championship West Wales derby against the Ospreys (17:15; S4C & Viaplay).

Macleod has recovered from an ankle injury to start at No. 8 in a side showing seven personnel changes from last weekend’s Challenge Cup loss to Black Lion.

Wales internationals Sam Costelow, Kemsley Mathias and Joe Roberts are also back from injury and go straight into the starting XV, as does influential Tongan Sam Lousi, who slots in at blindside flanker.

Costelow’s first appearance since damaging a hamstring and shoulder for Wales in November means Ioan Lloyd switches to full-back and will link up with Tom Rogers and Ryan Conbeer in the back three.

Roberts partners Johnny Williams in midfield, while Costelow pairs up with Gareth Davies.

There is an all-new front row of Mathias, Ryan Elias and Sam Wainwright; Alex Craig and Jac Price continue in the second row. In the back row, Lousi wears the No. 6 jersey, Teddy Leatherbarrow continues at openside and with Vaea Fifita ruled out with a calf issue, Macleod comes in at No. 8.

There are wholesale changes on the bench.

Wyn Jones is another who has recovered from injury, while fellow Wales international Kieran Hardy provides scrum-half cover. Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies also comes into the match-day 23.

Head coach Dwayne Peel said: “This is always a massive occasion. There’s going to be a big crowd here on Boxing Day and it will be an incredible atmosphere.

“We were all bitterly disappointed by the loss to Black Lion. I have been in teams before where we have lost poorly and it’s how you bounce back. We will work hard to make sure we put a performance together and the fact we are playing the Ospreys is the perfect game in terms of sharpening the focus.”

Scarlets team to play Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets on Tuesday, December 26 (17:15)

15 Ioan Lloyd; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Ryan Conbeer; 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Kemsley Mathias, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Sam Wainwright, 4 Alex Craig, 5 Jac Price, 6 Sam Lousi, 7 Teddy Leatherbarrow, 8 Josh Macleod (capt).

Reps: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Ben Williams, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Jonathan Davies, 23 Ioan Nicholas.

Players unavailable because of injury

Vaea Fifita, Eddie James, Steff Evans, Carwyn Tuipulotu, Dan Davis, Johnny McNIcholl, Taine Plumtree, Ken Owens, Dan Jones, Isaac Young, Iwan Shenton.