"Simon feels comfortable and wants to play and his experience will be very important to us," says Gareth Jenkins. The decision to play Easterby sooner than anticipated after an eye injury sustained at Wasps was left until the last minute and the decision finally clinched when it became clear Gavin Thomas's groin injury sustained at Newport on Friday night wasn't going to clear up.
"The Scarlets are clearly a side going well after a run of recent good results," said Ospreys head coach Lyn Jones. "It is always a huge challenge to face them at Stradey Park, and it is particularly the case for us this season coming on the back of the disappointing result and performance against The Blues."
The Ospreys have six players unavailable. Gavin Henson and Ian Evans are serving their suspension following the match against Leicester Paul James has a neck injury which is under assessment Andy Lloyd (knee ligament) is expected to return against Glasgow in January 2006 Brent Cockbain (hamstring), Ryan Jones (shoulder reconstruction) and David Bishop (fractured kneecap) are unlikely to play this season.
"We are still missing key players and we are likely to be in this situation for the majority of the season. However, it is vital that we focus on ensuring Celtic League success and securing Heineken Cup qualification for next season."
"Last week's performance is now history, and was a culmination of a number of difficult fixtures with a particularly short turnaround between the Leicester and Blues fixtures. The players have now had time to rest body and mind and I am confident that you will see a different Ospreys side on Wednesday," added Jones.
Scarlets coach Gareth Jenkins is looking forward to the match, describing it as "an occasion as much as an event. It's a huge game, playing our biggest rivals in front of a packed house". Experience was the word that kept cropping up in selection. Into the starting line up comes Dafydd Jones: "We were delighted to see him back in action on Friday and he delivered a great performance, amazing when you think how long he's been out. His experience showed and we'll need it again on Wednesday."
Another player to be rewarded for a big performance against the Dragons is Martyn Madden although he moves to loose head this week to make room for John Davies on the tight head. "That's a very experienced front row," beams Gareth. There's a lot of experience to choose from in the second row where competition for places in the starting line up is hot. The pairing of Inoke Afeaki and Chris Wyatt is the preferred combination: "Chris was outstanding on Friday and we'll go with that combination which was so effective."
Behind the pack Lee Byrne, Matthew Watkins and Gareth Bowen return to the starting line-up making it one of the strongest Scarlet line-ups seen this season.
"We're really looking forward to the challenge. It's Christmas, we're at home, there'll be a great atmosphere and I can't wait," said Gareth Jenkins.
Llanelli Scarlets: Lee Byrne; Dafydd James, Matthew Watkins, Regan King, Mark Jones; Gareth Bowen, Dwayne Peel; Martyn Madden, Matthew Rees, John Davies, Inoke Afeaki, Chris Wyatt, Dafydd Jones, Simon Easterby (capt), Alix Popham. Replacements: Craig Dunlea, Craig Hawkins, Adam Jones, Jon Mills, Clive Stuart-Smith, Mike Hercus, Barry Davies.
Ospreys: Stefan Terblanche; Richard Mustoe, Andrew Bishop, Leigh Davies, Shane Williams; Matthew Jones, Jason Spice; Duncan Jones, Barry Williams (capt), Andrew Millward, Andrew Newman, Lyndon Bateman, Jonathan Thomas, Steve Tandy, James Bater. Replacements: Adam Jones, Huw Bennett, Des Dillon, Richard Pugh, Richard Rees, Shaun Connor, Sonny Parker.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)