Maule is back in the mix for the Scarlets
GARETH Maule is set to make a welcome return from injury for the Scarlets this weekend as head coach Simon Easterby patches up his back division for the trip to Edinburgh.
Maule has made an earlier-than-expected comeback from a knee injury picked up in the pre-season defeat at Gloucester and has been passed fit for Friday’s Pro12 clash at Murrayfield.
It is timely news for the Scarlets, who will be without the versatile Steve Shingler and Gareth Owen for the trip north.
Shingler is resting a foot injury, while against the Dragons last weekend Owen picked up a bump to the same knee that was operated on a couple of seasons ago.
Head coach Simon Easterby insists neither injury is serious, but with no replacements brought in for George North and Andy Fenby over the summer, wing Kristian Phillips recovering from a broken hand and Kiwi Frazier Climo not due to arrive from Taranaki until next month, resources behind the scrum are being stretched tight.
And that makes Maule’s positive injury bulletin a welcome tonic for the Scarlets coaching team.
“Gareth had a nasty injury in Gloucester which looked like it could have been a lot worse than it was,” said Easterby.
“He has come back really well, the physios and conditioners have got him back quicker than we thought. It is great to have him back pushing for places over the next few weeks.
“He is a player who very rarely has a bad game. With Deacon Manu out at the moment we have only got Phil John who is over 30 years old in our squad.
“Gareth isn’t experienced in years, but he is in terms of playing at this level and we are going to need that when it comes to our European fixtures and when a large number of our squad go away this autumn.”
With Easterby likely to maintain the all-international partnership of Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams in midfield, Maule could feature on the wing with either Liam Williams or Jordan Williams switching to their preferred No.15 jersey.
“We have had to mix and match in our first three games and in pre-season and are still trying to find our best combination,” added Easterby.
“It is not ideal, but you have got to work with what you have got and I think the players we have got are doing particularly well managing that alteration to their game.
“It is different playing wing instead of centre or wing instead of full-back, but we have to make sure we have enough adaptability in the squad to cover when we have injuries.
“At the moment we are being tested there, but hopefully it won’t cost us too much.”
The Scarlets dropped to ninth in the Pro12 table following their 23-16 defeat to the Dragons in Newport, while Edinburgh are a point behind in 12th, propping up the rest.
“Both sides are looking to get a result and a bit of form, to be honest,” added the former Ireland international.
“Hopefully, it will prove to be an entertaining fixture and one we can come out of on the right side.”