Scarlets sweat on Priestland and Lee
THE Scarlets are hoping that an injury concern over fly-half Rhys Priestland and a citing hearing for prop Samson Lee won't hamper their preparations for the Heineken Cup clash against French powerhouses Racing Metro on Saturday.
Priestland has a sore foot which forced him to sit out training at Parc y Scarlets yesterday.
Head coach Simon Easterby is hopeful that his playmaker will pass a late fitness test, but described the Wales No. 10 as "borderline" to be fit for the visit of the Parisians.
As for 20-year-old tight-head Lee, he faces a hearing in Dublin tomorrow after being cited for an alleged stamp during the second half of the thrilling 33-26 round one win over Harlequins at The Stoop.
Both players have been influential figures for the Scarlets this season, with Priestland showing signs of returning to his international best, while Lee has been at the heart of some power-packed scrummaging performances.
"Rhys is back to a level, isn't he?" said Easterby when asked of Priestland's display against Quins.
"His performance last weekend kind of reminded me a little of the Perpignan game at Parc y Scarlets a few years ago when Rhys was a catalyst for some of those tries. He is comfortable with how he is playing and he is keen to kick on now.
"I thought that combination of Rhys, Scott (Williams) and Jon (Davies) worked pretty well for us."
Lee faces a nervous couple of days before learning of his fate.
He was yellow-carded by referee John Lacey early in the second half of Saturday's match after television evidence showed his boot making contact with the face of Quins scrum-half Danny Care.
Tournament organisers ERC have since received a citing complaint from match citing commissioner Jean-Claude Legendre of France.
Under the IRB sanctions for foul play, law 10.4(b) — a player must not stamp or trample on an opponent — the punishment ranges from the low end of a two-week ban to the top end of nine to 52 weeks.
After Saturday's game Easterby said of the incident: "It looked like he was going for the ball, it was silly rather than being malicious and I think it (yellow card) was probably the right call."
Any sort of ban will see Lee miss Saturday's showdown in Llanelli and a lengthier suspension could threaten his hopes of making Warren Gatland's Wales squad this autumn.
The Scarlets do have a capable replacement in South African Jacobie Adriaanse, although Fijian Deacon Manu is still recovering from a broken arm.
Also missing are co-captain Rob McCusker (calf) and hooker Ken Owens (abdominal), who have failed to recover from the injuries that forced them to miss the Harlequins game, while wing Kristian Phillips faces a fitness test on the calf problem that forced him off midway through the first half.
Looking forward to Saturday's match, Easterby said: "Racing have a huge amount of depth to their squad, but regardless of who they bring over here we have got to get our own house in order and if we do that like we did last weekend, I believe we can be a match for anyone.
"From our players' perspective, we have got over a bit of a hurdle and perhaps mental block in not winning a European game last season.
"Now we have the chance to kick on and not fear anyone in this competition."