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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Llanelli under pressure
Simon Easterby
Simon Easterby's return will be a great boost
The Scarlets did well to bounce back from a lacklustre start to last season to finish third in the Welsh-Scottish League.

However, coach Gareth Jenkins will be fortunate to repeat that performance this time around having lost the cutting edge of Lions wing Dafydd James to Bridgend.

The capture of wing Delme Williams from Neath is welcome but Llanelli look undermanned in midfield despite the presence of Leigh Davies and Salesi Finau.

However, the Scarlets can still muster the likes of the lightning quick Mark Jones on the wing.

  Season tips:
Celtic League prediction: Knock-out stage challengers
Welsh-Scottish League prediction: 5th
Star player: Simon Easterby

There were also signs at the end of last season that fullback Matt Cardey has overcome his crisis of confidence.

Like Cardiff, the Scarlets could suffer a Lions hangover at the start of the season, with Scott Quinnell recovering from a shoulder operation and Robin McBryde looking jaded.

But the return to full fitness of Ireland backrow Simon Easterby, who missed most of last season through injury, will offset the early absence of Quinnell.

There will be greater competition for places at lock as well, with US Eagle Luke Gross and Bristol's Scott Morgan joining, while fly-half Gareth Bowen has also signed from Bristol.

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