Tex handed first start as Scarlets begin European challenge

Rob Lloyd News

New signing Tevita ‘Tex’ Ratuva will make his Scarlets debut in Saturday’s European Challenge Cup opener against London Irish at Parc y Scarlets (7.45pm).

Ratuva featured for Fiji during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and slots into the second row in a side showing five changes from last weekend’s Guinness PRO14 win over Benetton.

Four of those changes come up front.

Wales international prop Rob Evans returns to the front row, while on the other side of the scrum, Werner Kruger replaces Samson Lee.

Ratuva will partner Lewis Rawlins at lock and in the other change Uzair Cassiem returns to the back row.

The former Springbok comes in at blindside alongside Scotland international Blade Thomson and Josh Macleod.

Behind the scrum, there is just one change with Kieron Fonotia coming in for Paul Asquith at centre. Wing Corey Baldwin will make his European debut

There is a reshuffle among the replacements, with 19-year-old Wales Under-20s international Jac Morgan set to make his senior debut.

Morgan is a member of the Scarlets Academy and captained the A-team during this season’s Celtic Cup.

There could also be a Scarlets debut for fly-half Ryan Lamb against his former club.

Elsewhere, Morgan Williams comes into the match-day squad for the first time this season.

Tickets are available for the Pool 2 clash at tickets.scarlets.wales

Scarlets v London Irish (Parc y Scarlets, Saturday, November 16; 7.45pm ko)

15 Johnny McNicholl; 14 Corey Baldwin, 13 Steff Hughes (capt),  12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Taylor Davies, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 5 Tevita Ratuva, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Blade Thomson.

Reps: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Jac Morgan, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Morgan Williams.

Unavailable because of injury

Jonathan Davies (knee), Rhys Patchell (shoulder), Tom Prydie (hamstring), Dan Davis (foot), Tom Phillips (hand), Joe Roberts (knee).