Aled Davies gets his chance to shine on Euro stage for Scarlets
AFTER two years of injury heartache scrum-half Aled Davies is handed his big chance on the European stage this afternoon.
Davies will make his Heineken Cup debut against Exeter Chiefs at Parc y Scarlets (1.35pm) after edging out Wales international Tavis Knoyle for the No. 9 shirt.
The 20-year-old is one of a crop of talented young half-backs at the region, but his progress has been halted in recent years because of two major knee operations.
So far, Davies has only five competitive appearances for the region to his name and just the one start in the LV= Cup.
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However, he gave an indication of his talents as a second-half replacement in the Pro12 defeat to Ulster last weekend and with Gareth Davies ruled out with a neck strain, he has earned the nod ahead of a player who was Wales's first choice at the start of the autumn series.
Davies is among a raft of changes to the Scarlets starting XV for a game they have to win to maintain any hopes of progressing in Europe this season.
As expected, star wing George North is ruled out with the hip injury that forced him to miss the final two internationals of Wales's autumn series, but head coach Simon Easterby is able to recall Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Rhys Priestland, Matthew Rees, Samson Lee and Aaron Shingler from Wales duty.
"We knew from the outset how tight it would be for us bringing back the internationals as we go into these double headers in Europe," said forwards coach Danny Wilson. "Of course it's difficult with just a week's prep and with the intensity of international rugby and how that impacts the players bodies.
"But you just get on with it.
"It's another challenge you face and all that really matters is getting a result and for our players returning it's another big, intense game of rugby."
Meanwhile, Exeter have included former Scarlets lock Damian Welch in their starting XV.
Scarlets: D. Newton; Liam Williams, J. Davies (capt), S. Williams, A. Fenby; R. Priestland, A. Davies; P. John, M. Rees, S. Lee, G. Earle, R. Kelly, A. Shingler, K. Murphy, J. Edwards. Reps: K. Owens, S. Hopkins, J. Adriaanse, J. Synman, S. Timani, T. Knoyle, A. Thomas, G. Maule.
Exeter: L. Arscott; G. Camacho, S. Naqelevuki, J. Shoemark, M. Jess; G. Steenson, H. Thomas; B. Sturgess, S. Alcott, H. Tui, T. Hayes (capt), D. Welch, T. Johnson, R. Baxter, J. Scaysbrook. Reps: N. Clark, B. Moon, C. Rimmer, A. Muldowney, D. Mumm, K. Barrett, I. Mieres, I. Whitten.