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Thursday 16 August 2018

Murphy in for Blues debut

The Scarlets v Leinster, Parc Y Scarlets, Saturday 6.30, Live TG4/S4C

The Scarlets v Leinster, Parc Y Scarlets, Saturday 6.30, Live TG4/S4C

Leinster flanker Jordi Murphy and prop Nathan White will make their full debuts for Leinster against the Scarlets in the PRO12 League in Llanelli tonight.

Both forwards made a contribution from the replacement bench in the third round. Injuries to Kevin McLaughlin and Dominic Ryan have opened the door for 20-year-old Academy player Murphy to display his skills.

Waikato captain White was signed to provide experience in a Leinster front row that has fared reasonably well in the first three games of the season. Jamie Hagan steps down to the bench.

Otherwise, there is a nice blend of youth and experience, with forwards Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, White, Damien Browne, Devin Toner and captain Rhys Ruddock providing the leadership for Murphy and number eight bolter Leo Auva'a.

Indeed, New Zealander Auva'a brings a touch of subtlety to the Leinster back row through his natural ball-playing ability married to an impressive physique.

Coach Joe Schmidt has spoken of how Auva'a is "a work in progress". He has the attributes to progress if he puts in the work. He has shown solid signs of athleticism and speed.

His concentration in defence and consistency of application to the basics of forward play are two areas in which he can improve.

He has the tools. He just has to use them.

The Scarlets have moved heaven and earth to make a big hullabaloo out of their 5,000th game through their storied history of rugby.

It will be interesting to note the attendance this evening.

Coach Nigel Davies said: "Scarlets rugby is a big part of this area and most of the boys with us now have been brought up in this region, so know what it means and the responsibility to the jersey.

"We know Leinster have some strong key players in the back line and made some quality overseas signings, who can cause a lot of damage, and we will have to deal with those threats."

The Scarlets bring back 22-year-old centre Nick Reynolds and reward 19-year-old full-back Dale Ford with another start following his impressive showing against Munster.

Andy Fenby and Lee Williams are on the wing. Emyr Phillips returns to the front row alongside Rhys Thomas and captain Iestyn Thomas, who notched up his 200th Scarlets appearance last weekend.

The Scarlets: D Ford; L Williams, N Reynolds, G Maule, A Fenby; D Newton, R Tipuna; I Thomas (capt), E Phillips, R Thomas, A Shingler, D Day, R McCusker, J Edwards, B Morgan.

Leinster: I Nacewa; F Carr, E O'Malley, L Fitzgerald, D Kearney; I Madigan, C Willis; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, N White, D Browne, D Toner, R Ruddock (capt), J Murphy, L Auva'a.

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