Derby date to kick-off Premiership campaign

Llanelli will kick-off their Indigo Premiership campaign against age-old rivals Swansea on Saturday.

Both clubs are celebrating their 150th anniversary seasons as two of the most decorated clubs in the Welsh game.

Hooker Llew Phillips-Taylor will lead the home side out on the opening weekend, part of a side brimming with youthful talent.

Scarlets Academy products Josh Phillips, Jac Davies, Tal Rees and Harri Williams all feature behind the scrum, while up front, Morgan Jones packs down at lock and highly-rated Wales U18s cap Luca Giannini starts at openside with the experienced Nathan Hart packing down at No. 8.

“We’ve had a couple of bumps in pre-season so we have had to get a few of the Academy boys up to speed quickly,” said head coach Phil John.

“This season we are using the side as a development tool alongside the availability of senior Scarlets dropping down. Obviously, this weekend there is a big group playing against Bristol on Friday night, but hopefully moving forward we will see players bringing experience into an exciting young group we have here.

“It is an important season and it is important for young players to get the opportunity to play. It will be great to see Academy players playing week in week out at this level.”

Former Scarlets back-rower Tom Phillips will lead the side this season, although the former Wales U20s Grand Slam captain is still recovering from a long-term knee injury.

“Tom is a Llanell boy through and through and his experience will be massive for us,” added John. “He is currently recovering from the injury he picked up playing for the Scarlets 12 months ago, but hopefully he will be up and running soon and we can get him on the park. We also have players like Chris Long and Nathan Hart, who are going to have important roles to play this season.”

On the challenge of facing the All Whites first up, John added:  “Swansea are similar to us, they are a young group who emphasise development. Llanelli against Swansea is always a big game with that extra spice to it, hopefully we can start the season with a bang.”

Entry to Saturday’s game is £12 for adults and £5 for Scarlets season ticket holders. U18s go in for free.

Llanelli team v Swansea (Saturday, September 3; 2,30pm ko)

15 Josh Phillips; 14 Jac Davies, 13 Joseph Hutchings, 12 Jack Price, 11 Rhys Harris; 10 Tal Rees, 9 Harri Williams; 1 Rhys Davies, 2 Llew Phillips-Taylor (capt), 3 Tomas Pritchard, 4 Joseph Greaves, 5 Morgan Jones, 6 Ryan Jenkins, 7 Luca Giannini, 8 Nathan Hart.

Reps: 16 Thomas Zoogah, 17 Rhys Cherry, 18 Cori Phillips, 1 Elis Rees-Lewis, 20 Jacob Lloyd Lewis, 21 Luke Davies, 22 Tomos Davies, 23 Harrison Button.