Leigh Halfpenny won’t get a chance to prove his match fitness ahead of the Guinness Six Nations game with England after being left out of the Scarlets squad to face Benetton in the PRO 14 clash at Stadio Monigo on Saturday.
Halfpenny hasn’t played since picking up a head knock last November against Australia, suffering from concussion symptoms.
The Welsh Rugby Union issued a statement over the decision and said “Leigh Halfpenny was not considered for the Scarlets fixture against Benetton Rugby this weekend.
“Although Leigh has returned to full training, it was collectively decided that he should continue training fully with the hope he will be available for selection in the imminent future.
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has selected Josh Macleod as his captain for the game with Benetton and reflected on his team’s history with the opposition ahead of this weekend’s game.
“They’re an improved side, last year in the same window they beat us at their play. They’ve got a side now that with added few players is adding a bit of spark. A couple of good wingers on the outside giving them a bit of power out there. Also, pace; their fitness levels have improved, they’re playing a lot more rugby, using the ball a lot more and with that, they’re going to pose a big threat!”, Pivac said.
“They have some big men, as we found earlier this season, they were a man down and they caused us a lot of problems. They play direct at times and then move the ball around sometimes, so they’re asking a few questions to the defence. We’re gonna have to make sure we bring a lot of physicality to this game and more of what we’ve been seeing in the Six Nations.”.
Commenting on injury comebacks, Pivac, went on to say: “We’ve got a few back, which is pleasing. Lewis Rawlins is back training and managed every aspect yesterday and so he came through his injury and therefore is available for selection, which helps out Blubring, who has been ruled out since the Leinster game, giving us three fit second rows.
Will Boyde is back training with us and also Uzair Cassiem ran well yesterday. This gives us another option after Ed Kennedy picked up some trouble with his hamstring, which then gives us 3 fit loose forwards.”.
Pivac, explained his current thoughts on the PRO14 Table: “It’s exciting, we would much rather be where we were this time last year, but we’re not and that’s reality. We’ve got four teams going hard for realistically two slots and I think there’s only two points separating those four teams. Every game now is a vital one and we have to fight for every point. Whether that’s an extra try to get 5, or to come within 7 and get one. Every point is going to be vital when we wash up at the end of the season.”.
He went on to comment: “We are doing a lot of things right, we are improving as a group and we’re playing without a lot of big names and getting ourselves in positions where we can win these games. We’re not far off, we believe if we can accumulate enough points over the next 3 weeks, we can get some of the big boys back; some of the injured boys back and we’ve got a pretty good run on in the last month.”.
Scarlets team to take on Benetton at Stadio Monigo, Saturday 16th February, kick-off 17:15 (GMT):
15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 1 Phil Price, 2 Marc Jones, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Josh Helps, 5 Tom Price, 6 Josh Macleod ©, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Uzair Cassiem
James Davies – Foot, Tom Phillips – Hamstring, Steve Cummins – Shoulder, Blade Thomson – Concussion, Angus O’Brien – Knee, Aaron Shingler – Knee, Taylor Davies – Hamstring, Ryan Conbeer – Ankle, Ed Kennedy – Hamstring, David Bulbring – Ankle/Knee, Corey Baldwin – Ankle, Leigh Halfpenny – Concussion
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