Saturday, 5 September 2009

Lyons challenges Scarlets

David Lyons has challenged his Scarlets team-mates to bring the best team in Europe crashing back down to earth.

Leinster will be without British Lions stars Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Gordon D'Arcy, Jamie Heaslip and Nathan Hines for tonight's (Sat) clash in Llanelli.

And the reigning Heineken Cup champions are also missing departed duo Rocky Elsom and Felipe Contepomi who moved onto pastures new this summer.

But despite the raft of changes, Australian No8 Lyons insists the Welsh region's hopes of getting off to a flyer in the Magners League won't be made any easier.

New Scarlets vice-captain Lyons, 29, said: "Leinster have one of the biggest squads in Europe and they will still be strong.

"We're a bit disappointed with the way we played against them in Dublin last year, so we would like to get our season off to a big start.

"We're comfortable here at the Parc, it is our home now and we want to make it a place where sides don't want to come and play.

"Last year we had a few great performances against good sides, but then a couple of weeks later we could just as easily back it up with a poor performance.

"It is a massive game for us first up."

The Scarlets has endured a close season of major upheaval off the field with at least a dozen players packed off through the exit door as well as forwards coach Paul Moriarty and chief executive Stuart Gallacher.

And Lyons admits it is up to the senior players in Nigel Davies' new-look squad to lead by example.

Lyons said: "We've a lot of experience in the squad. We've two British Lions and a number of internationals.

"So I have stressed to the lads that it's up to the senior players to lead by example in terms of consistency.

"Our job is to lead, and hopefully the younger boys can follow and continue where they left off at the end of last season."

Lions stars Stephen Jones and Matthew Rees are rested but new signings Sean Lamont, Richie Pugh and Rhys Thomas makes their competitive debut for the west Wales region.

Scarlets: D Evans, S Lamont, R Higgitt, J Davies, M Jones (capt), R Priestland, M Roberts; I Thomas, K Owens, R Thomas, L Reed, D Day, S Easterby, D Lyons, R Pugh Replacements: P John, E Phillips, D Manu, V Cooper, D Jones, L Williams, D Newton.


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