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Toulon v Scarlets team news as Test man returns after nine months out and call made on Jonathan Davies

Wales Online logo Wales Online 18/09/2020 Mark Orders

Jonathan Davies will sit out the Scarlets’ European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Toulon at Stade Mayol on Saturday evening (8.15pm UK time kick-off).

The Wales and Lions centre has been sidelined for the past 10 months after picking up a knee injury at the World Cup in Japan.

Davies has been training in recent weeks, raising hopes he might be involved against Toulon, but the Scarlets have evidently made a call not to risk him, even though his name doesn't appear on their list of injured players.

His experience and quality will be missed.

But the west Walians still have a dependable outside centre option in Steff Hughes, who led the team for much of last season. The 26-year-old partners Johnny Williams in midfield.

There is also a welcome return for Blade Thomson.

The Scotland international has had a terrible run of misfortune with injuries since his time with the Scarlets, including suffering a concussion which left him pondering whether to retire from the game.

His latest setback saw him suffer an Achilles problem which torpedoed a planned return against Cardiff Blues last month.

But the Scarlets have stuck by him and the all-action back rower, who can carry strongly and hit hard in the tackle, is keen to repay their faith as he features for the first time since Boxing Day last year.

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Scarlets back-rower Blade Thomson is back © Huw Evans Picture Agency Scarlets back-rower Blade Thomson is back

In a recent interview with RugbyPass, he said: "I hate being on the sidelines and watching the boys go to battle, but it’s just one of those things — that’s pro rugby, and a lot of the boys will go through it.

"The whole organisation has been top notch, always willing to help out and making sure I’m fine and the people are lovely.

"I just feel like I owe them something, to pay them back for the loyalty they have shown me.

"I haven’t really shown it on the field as much as I have wanted to.

"That’s what the next games and the upcoming season are for, to thank them and show them that I want to be a Scarlet."

To stand a chance in the south of France, the Scarlets need to bring their best rugby to the table. They rattled Toulon’s cage on the road during the pool stage before losing 17-16, but the French were too powerful in Llanelli in January when running out 27-15 victors.

Liam Williams is not yet ready to resume from a foot problem, while Rhys Patchell and Rob Evans are also ruled out as they strive to overcome injuries, but the Scarlets have depth in the back three and Dan Jones and Wyn Jones have been in form.

Head coach Glenn Delaney said: "It is a final for us. If you win three finals in a row you win a trophy.

"We are that far away from achieving the objective we all set out upon 12 to 13 months ago.

"It would be lovely to finish it off the right way. Whenever you get the opportunity to play for a trophy you have to be very respectful and take it deadly serious, which is exactly what our boys have been doing."

The hosts start with Baptiste Serin at No. 10 but Eben Etzebeth misses out with a rib injury.

Toulon: D. Ikpefan; M. Dakuwaqa, B. Heem, D. Paia’aua, G. Villiere; B. Serin, T. Takulua, J.B. Gros, A. Etrillard (capt), B. Gigashvili, S. Rebbadj, R. Taofifenua, C. Ollivon, R. Lakafia, S. Parisse.

Replacements: B. Soury, F. Fresia, E. Setiano, E. Dridi, B. Alainu’uese, J. Ory, L. Carbonel, F. Isa.

Scarlets: L. Halfpenny; J. McNicholl, S. Hughes, J. Williams, S. Evans; D. Jones, G. Davies; W. Jones, K. Owens, S. Lee, J. Ball, S. Lousi, B. Thomson, J. Macleod, S. Kalamafoni.

Replacements: R. Elias, P. Price, J. Sebastian, L. Rawlins, James Davies, K. Hardy, A. O’Brien, T. Morgan.

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