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Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Thursday, 9 December 2010

Heineken Cup prop warning for Scarlets

Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies
Scarlets coach Nigel Davies is facing testing times with injuries

The Scarlets have been warned they will not have special dispensation to add another tight-head to their European squad if their prop crisis deepens.

Heineken Cup organisers European Rugby Cup insist there will be no "exception" for the Llanelli region who are without three injured specialist tight-heads.

The Scarlets have called academy prop Simon Gardner into their Euro squad.

The ERC have reaffirmed their position that one player can be added to the European squad during the pool stages.

An ERC statement said: "ERC is not in a position to change its player registration regulations during the season and therefore is unable to make an exception in this instance.

"All parties agreed on the current regulations before the start of the 2010/11 season. However, those regulations are reviewed on an on-going basis."

Scarlets coach Nigel Davies has already voiced his fears that his side could be forced to play just 14 players in their final European pool games if they suffer another tight-head injury.

The Parc y Scarlets region were in talks with ERC for dispensation to bring in two tight-heads into their 38-man European squad as Davies insisted "this is a unique set of circumstances."

And Davies did warn: "But if we're not allowed to bring anyone into the squad and have a further tight-head prop injury then it may well mean we end up playing with 14 players in Europe.

"That is because teams can't just bring play any player at tight-head prop and have an uncontested scrum - it has to be a tight-head prop."

Davies was already with Welsh international prop Rhys Thomas when his other two specialist tight-heads Peter Edwards and Deacon Manu both suffered broken arms in Friday's 17-17 draw with Leinster.

If we're not allowed to bring anyone into the squad and have a further tight-head prop injury then it may well mean we end up playing with 14 players in Europe

Scarlets coach Nigel Davies

Both will be out for up to 12 weeks after Edwards was helped from the field after half-an-hour before his replacement Manu was then stretchered off with 10 minutes remaining.

Gardner, the 20-year-old Wales under-20 international, has been added to the Scarlets' European squad and Phil John, normally a loose-head, can play at tight-head if coach Davies is desperate.

Davies fears, though, the Scarlets may find themselves in an unprecedented position of fielding 14 men in their final Pool Five games should another prop suffer a serious injury.

Now Gardner has been added to their European squad - which includes 10 front row players and three tight-heads - the Scarlets cannot add another player according to current ERC rules.

"Three of our tight-heads have fractured limbs and as a result we can make one transfer, who is Simon Gardner, into our European squad," Davies explained.

"We obviously have Phil John who can play tight-head so right now we're comfortable and happy.

"The problem we may have is if we get another injury to a tight-head prop.

"Under current rules, we will not be able to add anyone to the European squad - despite only being third of the way through our European campaign and that may be a problem.

"That would really put pressure on our squad because we'll ultimately end up playing with 14 players.

"That's not good for us and it's not good for the tournament.

"We respect fully that there need to be clear rules and regulations. But I also believe that there are certain circumstances that need to be looked at specially as well."

But should the Scarlets progress further than the pool stages, Davies will be able to register further players.

The Scarlets face Pool Five bottom club Benetton Treviso in a Heineken Cup double-header - starting at Parc y Scarlets this Saturday - before their key pool matches against Leicester and Perpignan in January.

Their prop crisis is also a blow to the Scarlets' Magners League push as Davies' men are second in the table, four points behind leaders Munster.

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see also
North blow for Wales and Scarlets
07 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Scarlets 35-27 Benetton Treviso
11 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Scarlets 17-17 Leinster
03 Dec 10 |  Scarlets
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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