Cardiff - Wales hope the Scarlets' winning formula can rub
off and help Warren Gatland's side to victory when they welcome a resurgent
Scotland to Cardiff for their Six Nations opener on Saturday.
Head coach Gatland has named a team which contains 10 men
from Llanelli - the Scarlets players rewarded for their fine form in the
domestic PRO14 and European Champions Cup tournaments this season.
Worcester's Josh Adams, who has scored 13 tries for the
Warriors this season, will make his debut on the wing after Wales decided
against gambling on the fitness of George North, struggling with a knee
problem, but the rest of the back division is made up of Scarlets.
Rhys Patchell is selected at flyhalf with Hadleigh Parkes
and Scott Williams the centre pairing.
"The Scarlets have got to the quarter-finals in Europe
and there's a group of them who have come in with confidence and belief as a
collective which can definitely be a positive," said Gatland.
"Those combinations played a big part in our selection.
Rhys has has a good season and both he and Gareth Davies have trained
particularly well over the last week," he added.
"There was a healthy discussion about who we should
pick, but we decided both of them had put their hands up.
"Those two guys are familiar with each other's play.
That speeded up our preparation a little bit and hopefully it will get us off
to a good start in the Six Nations," the British and Irish Lions boss
Leigh Halfpenny and Steffan Evans join 22-year-old Adams in
the back three.
In the pack, it's an all-Scarlets front row made up of Rob
Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee, with veteran lock Alun Wyn Jones the captain.
Adams, who will team up alongside his former school-mate
Steffan Evans, said: "I'm thankful the coaches have put their faith in me,
but I felt a bit sick when I found out.
"I've worked really hard to get to this point and when
you get there, it's surreal. There are a lot of nerves, mixed with excitement,
but I can't wait for Saturday."
Injuries have deprived Wales of several experienced
internationals, with Jonathan Davies, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Taulupe Faletau
and former captain Sam Warburton among those ruled out of Saturday's match.
"We are all aware of the pressure on players,
particularly after a Lions year," said Gatland, who guided the combined
side to a drawn series in his native New Zealand in 2017.
"Players haven't had a huge amount of time in the
off-season to repair and recover.
"A lot of teams are in the same boat, but it's just the
way the game is going."
With Scotland resurgent after an impressive end of 2017
series that included a victory over Australia and a narrow defeat by world
champions New Zealand, hopes are high they can end their 15-year wait for a win
It is also eight years since Scotland last won an away match
in the Six Nations anywhere other than Rome.
But last year saw the Scots end a run of nine consecutive
defeats by Wales.
Saturday's match will be the first time that Scotland boss
Gregor Townsend has coached in the Six Nations and the former playmaker said:
"We've selected a squad we believe can start with the intensity and speed
required to win in Cardiff. We're expecting a physical game against a very good
"Wales have one of the best defences in the game and an
attack that sees forwards passing much more and a structure that enables backs
to get on the ball."
While Wales's selection is dominated by players from the Scarlets,
the regional side also provide the Scotland captain in flank John Barclay, with
gifted fullback Stuart Hogg likely to be the visitors' main dangerman.