It will be a warm welcome back to the starting line-up in front of a lively and supportive home crowd for the region’s 22-cap international outside half Rhys Priestland who has appeared 111 times for his region with 772 points to date.
Priestland impressed last weekend in his second half performance off the bench away at Gloucester; following more than 18 months out of play after his Achilles injury in December 2011.
The Scarlets new signing Steve Shingler moves from the 10 jersey to centre in partnership alongside Wales international Scott Williams. Scarlets centre Gareth Maule is out with an injured knee (4 weeks).
Otherwise the starting XV looks the same as last weekend with captain Rob McCusker leading a strong Scarlets team with plenty of depth on the bench and is only without British Lions centre Jon Davies (rested) and new signing Scotland flanker John Barclay.
The Scarlets will be looking for another strong start to their PRO12 campaign and with it a repeat of last season’s opening fixture of the new season when they took the champions to task with a strong performance to secure a 45-20 win at home.
Scarlets Team v Leinster; Friday September 6th 2013 kick off 7.05pm at Parc y Scarlets; 15 Gareth Owen; 14 Liam Williams; 13 Scott Williams; 12 Steve Shingler; 11 Kristian Phillips; 10 Rhys Priestland; 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Phil John; 2 Ken Owens; 3 Samson Lee; 4 George Earle; 5 Jo Snyman; 6 Aaron Shingler; 7 Josh Turnbull; 8 Rob McCusker (capt).
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Craig Price, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Jordan Williams.
Simon Easterby Coach said: “We need a strong start – a good result and performance like last year’s opening game gave us real momentum going into the next series of fixtures and that proved to be important in the end in helping us reach the top four.
“Resting some of the Lions players does affect them slightly more than us, as they have six but we know that Leinster are always going to be competitive. They are very effective and efficient with ball in hand and will be a challenge to us.
“All teams are looking for form in their opening game and want to hit the ground running in their opening game – regardless of how long the season is.
“We’re in a very positive place as a group, fitness wise we’ve been able to pick from a near full strength squad so that’s a bonus and the boys are eager to get going.
“It’s a great fixture for us to have first up at home for our supporters and everyone’s in a positive and upbeat mood so hopefully it will be a lively night at Parc y Scarlets. We feel fairly confident and are really looking forward to getting our season started now after a lot of hard work in the background on our pre-season preparations.”
Easterby said the new Leinster coach, Matt O’Connor would probably not look to change too much given Leinster’s success and added that going into his second season as Head Coach of the Scarlets, it was all about having a strong team around you.
Easterby said: “For me, its all about the environment you create, having the right people around you and that the players buy into what you are looking to achieve and maintaining a positive atmosphere.
“On the whole, the players here are happy with the way we want to play, and that we want to have an expansive game. We’re certainly going in the right direction. We showed last weekend if we keep our discipline and keep hold of the ball we can be really effective and I was pleased with how our set-piece play went last weekend – that was a real positive for us.”