The Scarlets are gearing up for a busy December with the region looking forward to three top billing rugby fixtures at Parc y Scarlets including welcoming European champions Leinster in the Heineken Cup on December 12th.
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Rob Higgitt is named as Scarlets captain for Harlequins game
Huw Evans Picture Agency
3 November 2009, 4:58 pm
Opportunities to shine handed to Scarlets young guns
Head Coach Nigel Davies has handed opportunities to a number of new faces for the Scarlets' LV= Cup opener against Harlequins at The Stoop with a new captaincy role for North Wales born centre Rob Higgitt.
Davies has chosen to rest player coach Simon Easterby and Scarlets stalwart David Lyons and who remarkably has played every competitive game for the Scarlets since he joined last season.
New faces on the starting team sheet include 24-year-old North Wales born winger Andy Fenby, signed this season from Newcastle Falcons as well as back rowers Josh Turnbull and North Walian Rob McCusker.
Ruthin-born Centre Rob Higgitt, 28 is handed the captaincy for the game.
Alongside the new faces, plenty of talent and experience comes in the form of Deacon Manu, Vernon Cooper, Ken Owens, Richie Pugh, Morgan Stoddart and Phil John.
Head Coach Nigel Davies said: "There are only limited opportunities for many of our younger players to get a start with the first team and so a tournament like the LV= Cup will give many of these squad players their first opportunities. And I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what they see.
"It is a test of our strength and depth as a squad and we invested in a lot of youngsters last year. A lot of those have come up to the mark already this season and this game we will be about giving opportunities to a number of new Scarlets faces that I am very excited about.
"We'll get to see some of the new wave of young Scarlets that are coming through. There will be one or two new faces in our line-up on Sunday that I think will raise a few eyebrows - for all the right reasons.
"The players are all clearly aware that if they play well at this level, they will be pushing for a place in our first team - this is their chance to put their hands up ahead of our next big game in the Heineken Cup against Leinster at Parc y Scarlets in December.
"And I am expecting a lot from them. Many of the players have been going very well for the premiership clubs and are really itching to have the opportunity to prove themselves on the bigger stage."
Davies acknowledged that playing Harlequins at home will be a tough fixture.
"They did the double on us last year in the European Cup and the game down at Stradey was one of most disappointing of last season. It had a big bearing on the rest of the season and wasn't a great experience; so obviously we want to put that right.
"Harlequins are a quality outfit, they've got a lot of good quality players and they are playing at home so they will be feeling very confident. Of course it's going to be a big challenge for us.
"But we go into this game feeling positive. It's a fresh new tournament for us, with all to play for. I know this group will give everything they have got and there may be a few surprise performances on Sunday."
Scarlets 22 for LV= Cup against Harlequins at the Stoop on Sunday 8th November kick-off; 13.45.
15 Morgan Stoddart, 14 Joe Ajuwa, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Rob Higgitt (c), 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Phil John, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Vernon Cooper, 5 Damian Welch, 6 Rob McCusker, 7 Richie Pugh, 8 Josh Turnbull.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Corsi, 17 Emyr Phillips, 18 Simon Gardner, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Johnathan Edwards, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Daniel Newton, 23 Scott Williams.
One to watch: Joe Ajuwa Age: 26 Born: Lagos, Nigeria Height 6'2" Weight: 106kg / 234 Ibs /16st 10Ilbs Previous clubs: London Welsh, Richmond, Scarlets currently playing with Llandovery RFC. Prolific try scorer, pace and strength has shown in the last nine games that he has played for Llandovery RFC. Scored 30 points in nine games (6 tries).