Tonight's rugby news as Wales international stood down and star back after five months

Taine Plumtree -Credit:Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency
Taine Plumtree -Credit:Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency

These are your rugby headlines on the evening of Friday, April 19.

Plumtree starts for Scarlets

Taine Plumtree will make his return from injury tomorrow when the Scarlets head to Edinburgh tomorrow night (7.35).

Wales international Plumtree hasn't started a game for the west Wales club since the Emirates Lions match in November when he suffered a shoulder injury.

That ruled him out of Six Nations contention and the 23-year-old will now want to make up for lost time with his region, while also having an eye on Wales' tour to Australia this summer.

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Plumtree is one of five changes made by head coach Dwayne Peel for the trip to the Scottish capital, with Johnny Williams, Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies and Kemsley Mathias also returning to the starting XV. Ioan Lloyd is ruled out with a slight hamstring niggle.

It's been a bitterly disappointing campaign for the Scarlets who will be keen to end the campaign on a positive note.

Peel said: “Obviously, we were disappointed with our performance against Glasgow after coming into that game on the back of a tough, well-fought win over Benetton.

"There is an opportunity now to go to Edinburgh and put that right. We have had a bit of a break, a bit of reflection and we're looking forward to the rest of the season. There are five games left and opportunities for guys to put their hands up and also an opportunity to find some momentum and show some fight.”

Edinburgh: Wes Goosen; Matt Currie, Mark Bennett, James Lang, Duhan van der Merwe; Ben Healy, Ali Price; Boan Venter, Dave Cherry, Javan Sebastian, Jamie Hodgson, Grant Gilchrist (capt), Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata.

Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Marshall Sykes, Connor Boyle, Ben Vellacott, Cammy Scott, Chris Dean.

Scarlets: Ioan Nicholas; Tom Rogers, Johnny Williams, Eddie James, Tomi Lewis; Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies; Kemsley Mathias, Ryan Elias (capt), Sam Wainwright, Alex Craig, Sam Lousi, Taine Plumtree, Dan Davis, Vaea Fifita.

Replacements: Shaun Evans, Wyn Jones, Harri O'Connor, Morgan Jones, Carwyn Tuipulotu, Archie Hughes, Dan Jones, Ryan Conbeer.

Patchell's absence explained

Highlanders' coach Clarke Dermody has explained the absence of Rhys Patchell from their recent matchday squads, revealing he's been stood down to protect him for later in the season.

Patchell earned rave reviews since he signed for the New Zealanders, putting in pivotal displays with eye-catching moments in his opening games.

But the fly-half has missed the cut in the past few weeks despite not being injured, and his coach has now shed light on the situation, with Patchell's history playing a part in the decision.

Dermody explained: "He [Patchell] has done an awesome job for us. But he's coming off an injury-plagued couple of years. He's had six games in a row for us now, so, learning from last year, if you lose your first five-eighths to overload injuries, it becomes a long season."

The former Cardiff and Scarlets man has yet to play this month but has started in five out of eight games this term.

Litterick pens new deal

Rhys Litterick has signed a contract extension with Cardiff Rugby.

The 25-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough season at the Arms Park after joining from Harlequins last summer.

Litterick, who qualified for Wales through his father, missed a chuck of the campaign after suffering an injury against Racing 92 but is now back fit and firing for the season run-in.

He said: “I’m really pleased to extend my stay at Cardiff. I’ve enjoyed working with this group of boys and working under Jockey (head coach Matt Sherratt), and the rest of the coaches and backroom team.

“I feel like we are building something really good here and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve as we continue to develop as a group.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunities Cardiff have already given me, it’s an environment I feel I’ve really progressed in as an individual and I’m confident I will continue to do so.”

Sherratt added: We have all been really pleased with the impact Rhys has had at the club in his first season. From the start of pre-season, he went about his work quietly impressing us and he has continued that through the campaign

“He is a quality technical scrummager, who has held his own against some top packs and works hard for the team.

“He is also a good person, who has fitted into our environment really well, and will continue to progress.”

Nagy returns

Full-back Max Nagy returns to the run-on side for the Ospreys' clash with Stormers in Cape Town tomorrow (6.15).

Nagy dislocated his ankle before the new year, falling awkwardly in their narrow defeat to Benetton. He went under the knife and curtailed the 24-year-old's season, having been in superb form up until that point.

Toby Booth is still without Wales co-captains Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake, although the pair have travelled to South Africa. Tom Botha has been banned for three weeks for an incident against Gloucester which left supporters perplexed.

With a place in the URC play-offs still up for grabs, Booth knows what's at stake.

“The Stormers are very physical so it’s a big challenge for us," he said. "They are a big team with a strong set piece, but they’ve got some good athletes behind and will play an open game. It’s important that we go out and give the best account of ourselves in this one.”

Stormers: Warrick Gelant; Suleiman Hartzenberg, Wandisile Simelane, Dan du Plessis, Ben Loader; Manie Libbok, Stefan Ungerer; Brok Harris, JJ Kotze, Frans Malherbe (capt), Adre Smith, Gary Porter, Nama Xaba, Hacjivah Dayimani, Evan Roos.

Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Kwenzo Blose, Sazi Sandi, Ruben van Heerden, Willie Engelbrecht, Marcel Theunissen, Paul de Wet, Damian Willemse.

Ospreys: Max Nagy; Luke Morgan, Keiran Williams, Owen Watkin, Keelan Giles; Dan Edwards, Reuben Morgan-Williams; Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Rhys Henry, Victor Sekekete, Huw Sutton, James Ratti, Harri Deaves, Morgan Morris (capt).

Replacements: Lewis Lloyd, Garyn Phillips, Ben Warren, Adam Beard, Jeandre Rudolph, Luke Davies, Jack Walsh, Evardi Boshoff.

Flanagan rings changes

Dai Flanagan has rung the changes for Dragons' trip to Italy tomorrow (2pm).

The head coach has made six alterations to his starting line-up for the clash against Benetton, with Wales No. 8 Aaron Wainwright dropping to the bench and veteran Dan Lydiate skippering the side.

Centre Sio Tomkinson, scrum-half Dane Blacker, prop Rodrigo Martinez, hooker James Benjamin and lock George Nott return, with hooker Elliot Dee rested.

Flanagan said: “Benetton do everything well. They kick well, they chase well, their collisions are very good. They have evolved their game superbly well. If you compare our preview from last year to this year, last year it was about not giving them much set piece because they drive a lot.

“This year they drive, break out, and their centre (Juan Ignacio) Brex is a fantastic rugby player. They get him on ball a lot and he can play front line, out the back, make breaks, he is a massive dangerman.

“They’ve got a fantastic midfield and fantastic back row, and those guys give them the go forward and it makes their platform superbly dominant.

“We need to control that; hence you will see some of our selections, we have gone with a big pack, a mobile pack, and we are going to try and be as physical as we can be.”

Benetton: Rhyno Smith; Leonardo Marin, Ignacio Brex, Marco Zanon, Onisi Ratave; Tomas Albornoz, Andy Uren; Mirco Spagnolo, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Giosué Zilocchi, Scott Scrafton, Riccardo Favretto, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (capt), Toa Halafihi

Replacements: Bautista Bernasconi, Ivan Nemer, Tiziano Pasquali, Gideon Koegelenberg, Edoardo Iachizzi, Alessandro Izekor, Dewaldt Duvenage Jacob Umaga.

Dragons: Cai Evans; Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Aneurin Owen, Jared Rosser; Will Reed, Dane Blacker; Rodrigo Martinez, James Benjamin, Luke Yendle, Ben Carter, George Nott, Dan Lydiate (capt), Sean Lonsdale, Taine Basham.

Replacements: Brodie Coghlan, Aki Seiuli, Dmitri Arhip, Harrison Keddie, Aaron Wainwright, Che Hope, Joe Westwood, Jordan Williams.