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Wales stars back for Scarlets against Exeter

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 07, 2012

By Robert Lloyd

Jonathan Davies

Jonathan Davies

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THE Scarlets will welcome back a host of Wales stars for tomorrow's crunch clash against Exeter — but the returning cavalry have been warned they will have to earn their places in the side.

Having lost their first two Heineken Cup matches of the season, anything less than a win this weekend will mean European elimination for Simon Easterby's men.

Wales wing George North is a doubt because of a hip injury but, even if their North Walian totem is ruled out, the Scarlets will still have the likes of Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Davies (left) and Scott Williams back in the fold.

The returning international contingent will be desperate for a victory after suffering an autumn whitewash with Wales, though Scarlets forwards coach Danny Wilson insists it is not a foregone conclusion everyone of them will start tomorrow.

"They have to earn the shirt the other boys have been wearing," he said.

"There is a lot of quality coming back and that is something we have to consider when we are looking at selection. We have players who have performed well for us while the international players have been away so they are putting pressure on the people coming back."

Two Wales players who will not be involved are back-rowers Rob McCusker and Josh Turnbull, who both picked up injuries on international duty and are targeting a return later this month.

The pack will be bolstered, however, by the return of their Wales colleagues such as Matthew Rees and Aaron Shingler.

The Scarlets will be braced for an onslaught from an abrasive Exeter side, and Wilson believes his side must win both instalments of their double-header against the Chiefs.

"We are under no illusions about how good a side Exeter are, and they come here on the back of some good results," he said.

"Credit to (head coach) Rob Baxter and his coaches because their climb over the last three years from the Championship to Europe has been excellent.

"During my time at London Welsh I came across Exeter many times and they have really developed and become an exceptional side.

"We have to win the double-header against Exeter to give us any chance of progressing.

"They have become capable of playing both brands of rugby. They can play that forward-orientated game they are associated with, but they can also play with a bit of width."

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