Hampered Scarlets to deploy George Earle at blindside
SOUTH African lock George Earle is pressed into emergency back-row duty as the Scarlets take on play-off contenders Munster in Cork tomorrow (5.15pm).
With Aaron Shingler on international duty, skipper Rob McCusker (ankle) and Josh Turnbull (knee) having picked up injuries playing for Wales this autumn and No. 8 Kieran Murphy sidelined with the hip problem that forced him off against the Blues last weekend, resources are stretched.
And it means Earle has been asked to slot in at blindside, alongside Llanelli RFC's Craig Price — who will make his first Pro12 start — and flanker Johnathan Edwards, who will again captain the side.
As well as Murphy, wing Kristian Phillips (groin) also misses out so there is another opportunity for Nick Reynolds on the wing.
The elevation of Liam Williams for this evening's Wales v All Blacks clash in Cardiff sees Morgan Stoddart recalled at full-back. Stoddart has been rested for the last couple of weeks of LV= Cup action.
Elsewhere, Aled Thomas is back at fly-half, while up front South African prop Jacobie Adriaanse makes his league debut after a couple of impressive cameos off the bench.
The scrum has been an area of encouragement for head coach Simon Easterby in recent weeks, but the former Ireland flanker knows his side will need a big improvement across the board if they are to claim a first victory over Munster in 16 attempts.
"Munster are a very good side and good at winning games when they shouldn't always do," said Easterby
"They recruit very well and are able to select a fairly strong side regardless of who is away with Ireland."
The Scarlets go into the match in second spot, six points ahead of fourth-placed Munster.
"Our next four games will probably have a big bearing on the league season," added Easterby.
"We have a big couple of weeks with matches against Munster and Ulster and then we have the Blues and Ospreys.
"We play a lot of the teams in the top seven over the next couple of months so it is a big period for us to cement our place in that top four and take points off other sides as well."
Munster, unbeaten in the league at Musgrave Park since 2008, make six changes to the side who beat Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park last time out.
No. 8 Tommy O'Donnell misses out because of an ankle injury and is replaced by Paddy Butler, while Ian Keatley returns to his favoured No. 10 spot with Ronan O'Gara on international duty in Dublin.
Munster: F. Jones; D. Howlett (capt), C. Laulala, J. Downey, L. O'Dea; I. Keatley, D. Williams; W. du Preez, M. Sherry, S. Archer, I. Nagle, B. Holland, Dave O'Callaghan, P. Butler, N. Ronan. Reps: D. Varley, M. Horan, BJ. Botha, D. Foley, CJ. Stander, P. Stringer, JJ. Hanrahan, D. Hurley.
Scarlets: M. Stoddart; N. Reynolds, G. Maule, G. Owen, A. Fenby; A. Thomas, G. Davies; P. John, E. Phillips, J. Adriaanse, J. Ball, R. Kelly, G. Earle, C. Price, J. Edwards (capt). Reps: K. Myhill, S. Hopkins, S. Lee, J. Snyman, D. Thomas, R. Williams, D. Newton, A. Warren.