Wales international duo return for derby date

Rob Lloyd News

Scarlets welcome back Wales internationals Jake Ball and Steff Evans for Saturday’s Boxing Day derby against the Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets (17:15; Premier Sports).

Ball has come through the return-to-play concussion protocols, while Evans has recovered from illness as the two personnel changes to the starting XV that was selected to take on RC Toulon last weekend in a Champions Cup match that was eventually cancelled.

Evans is joined by Johnny McNicholl, who slots in at full-back, and Tom Rogers in an exciting back three; Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies partners skipper Steff Hughes in midfield, while Dan Jones and Kieran Hardy are again picked at half-back.

Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias and Javan Sebastian form the front row, while Ball packs down alongside rising prospect Morgan Jones at lock. Ed Kennedy, Uzair Cassiem and Josh Macleod are again named as the back-row trio.

There are a number of changes among the replacements. In come loose-head prop Phil Price, Fijian second row Tevita Ratuva, Scotland international Blade Thomson and Wales U20s fly-half Sam Costelow. South Arican tight-head Pieter Scholtz will make his Scarlets debut if he appears off the bench.

The Scarlets’ weekly round of Covid-19 testing produced one positive case and that player is currently isolating in accordance with public health guidelines.

Ospreys v Scarlets (Saturday, December 26 (17:15, Premier Sport)

15 Johnny McNicholl; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Steff Hughes (capt), 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Javan Sebastian, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Morgan Jones, 6 Ed Kennedy, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Uzair Cassiem.

Reps: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Tyler Morgan

Unavailable because of injury

Ken Owens (shoulder), Liam Williams (ankle), Johnny Williams (calf), Lewis Rawlins (neck), Tomi Lewis (knee), Alex Jeffries (elbow), Tom Phillips (hip), Dylan Evans (shoulder), Taylor Davies (shoulder), Jac Morgan (knee), Jac Price (ankle), Samson Lee (concussion), Rob Evans, Rhys Patchell, James Davies, Aaron Shingler.