New recruit Sean Holley seeks to fire up Scarlets
THE Scarlets take on Clermont Auvergne in their Heineken Cup finale this evening (6) having added the former coach of their arch rivals in a bid to haul them out of their recent slump.
Sean Holley will be part of the region's coaching team for the Pool 5 clash at Parc y Scarlets after taking up the short-term role of backs and skills coach.
Holley, who helped guide the Ospreys to four league titles during his eight-year spell with the region, is covering for Mark Jones, who is to link up with the Wales camp for the forthcoming Six Nations.
The 42-year-old has been out of coaching for nearly 12 months following his exit from the Liberty Stadium.
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But he is relishing his return, starting this evening with the arrival of arguably the top side in Europe.
"I am really grateful for the opportunity and I can't wait to get started," said Holley.
"What is important is that I come in here and help Simon (Easterby) in whatever way I can. Being head coach is a tough job, I know that from experience and hopefully I can offload some things to him.
"My agenda here is to come and help the players improve. I have taken a bit of a break and now this is a great opportunity for me to get back into it, albeit on a short-term basis.
"I am excited about the challenge and excited about the Clermont game.
"It is a daunting prospect, playing, in my view, the best team in Europe, but it is a case of going out there and playing for a bit of pride."
The Scarlets have also confirmed that forwards coach Danny Wilson, who is also head coach of Wales Under-20s, will continue to coach at Parc y Scarlets during the Six Nations, dividing his time between Llanelli and the Welsh Rugby Union's Centre of Excellence at the Vale Resort.
The first priority, though, will be trying to prevent a hugely disappointing European campaign ending in a whitewash.
Those hopes have been boosted by the return to fitness of Wales wing George North, who is back in the starting line-up just two weeks after being stretchered off with a neck injury against Ulster.
North is one of five changes to the side that took the field against Leinster in Dublin last weekend.
Centre Adam Warren is handed his first European start alongside Jonathan Davies in midfield, while up front Samson Lee replaces Jacobie Adriaanse at tight-head prop.
Joe Snyman comes in for Richard Kelly at lock, while Sione Timani, after his bruising display at the RDS, continues at blindside in an unchanged back row. Aaron Shingler returns to the bench after recovering from a groin problem.
Clermont, meanwhile, recall Wales full-back Lee Byrne in a side showing eight changes from the one that thumped Exeter 46-3 last weekend. Star French centre Wesley Fofana is absent, while former Scarlets favourite Regan King drops to the bench, but in their place come All Black Benson Stanley and veteran France international Aurelien Rougerie.
Scarlets: Liam Williams; G. North, J. Davies, A. Warren, K. Phillips; A. Thomas, T. Knoyle; P. John, K. Owens, S. Lee, G. Earle, J. Snyman, S. Timani, R. McCusker (capt), J. Turnbull. Reps: M. Rees, R. Jones, J. Adriaanse, R. Kelly, A. Shingler, G. Davies, G. Maule, A. Fenby.
Clermont: L. Byrne; J. Malzieu, A. Rougerie (capt), B. Stanley, N. Nalaga; D. Skrela, M. Parra; R. Chaume, B. Kayser, D. Zirakashvili, J. Cudmore, N. Hines, J. Bonnaire, E. Vermeulen, A. Lapandry. Reps: T. Paulo, V. Debaty, D. Kotze, J. Pierre, D. Chouly, L. Radosavljevic, K. Senio, R. King.