KIERON Fonotia will lead the Scarlets for the first time when they face Munster at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (5pm kick-off).
The Samoan international centre takes over the captaincy from Jake Ball and skippers a side showing just one change from the side that saw off Toyota Cheetahs 43-21 in Llanelli last Sunday.
Five of Wales’ Six Nations squad members – Leigh Halfpenny, Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Rhys Patchell and Steff Evans – are included in Wayne Pivac’s match-day 23. With Ball retained by Wales, Lewis Rawlins comes into the second row to partner Josh Helps.
Patchell and Evans are named among the replacements.
With five matches remaining in the regular Guinness PRO14 season, the Scarlets sit fifth in the Conference B standings, but just five points separate second from fifth.
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac:
“We were pleased to get the five points against the Cheetahs last weekend. The start was everything we had hoped for and to score four tries inside 20 minutes was perfect for us.
“We probably got a bit ahead of ourselves after that, but the bonus-point win keeps us right in the play-off race.
“We all know that Munster are going to be a very different proposition this evening.
“They will bring a lot aggression in defence, a lot more line-speed as a lot of northern hemisphere teams are doing.
“That poses a different challenge, we need to be on our game and are expecting more of an arm wrestle.
“You look at the table with five games to go and it looks like being a real dogfight, potentially I can see it going down to the last weekend.”
SCARLETS v Munster (Saturday, March 2, 2019; Parc y Scarlets, 5pm kick-off)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Kieron Fonotia © , 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Johnny McNicholl; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Josh Helps, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Josh Macleod, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tom Price, 20 Tom Phillips, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Steff Evans.
Unavailable because of injury
James Davies (foot), Aaron Shingler (knee), Steve Cummins (shoulder), Blade Thomson (concussion), Angus O’Brien (knee), Ed Kennedy (hamstring), David Bulbring (ankle/knee), Corey Baldwin (ankle), Jonathan Evans (ankle).