George North to make Ospreys comeback in west Wales derby after serious knee injury

Credit: PA

George North will play his first game of rugby for over a year after being named on the replacements bench for the Ospreys in the west Wales derby match against the Scarlets on Saturday afternoon.

The Wales star suffered a serious knee injury against Cardiff Rugby last April, and has seen his comeback delayed in recent weeks.

Wales lock Adam Beard will also make his 100th appearance for the Ospreys.

It will be a big day for both teams as finishing as the top region in the league means winning the Welsh Shield and results in Champions Cup qualification for next season.

Scarlets are currently nine points ahead of the Ospreys going into the match. They will be crowned Welsh winners if they beat their west Wales rivals at the stadium.

Ospreys head coach, Toby Booth said this derby was "significant" for everyone involved.

“This is the West Wales Derby and we haven’t played the Scarlets at home in Swansea since I have been coach,” he said.

“It will be good to do that and to do that with a crowd will be great.

“We know how important this game is to supporters and people associated with the club and it’s the same for the Scarlets. All derbies are significant but we know for a lot of people this derby is even more significant.

“It’s also a reflection on the progress we are making as a team. The Scarlets are a very good team and everybody knows they are a very good team and they pose a different threat to Cardiff.”

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel has made three changes to the team who beat the Dragons at Rodney Parade last weekend.

Wales star Liam Williams will be starting at full-back having recovered from his hamstring injury. Sam Costelow has also recovered from the head knock he suffered in the home game against the Dragons. Ryan Conbeer returns to the left wing

Javan Sebastian will make his 50th appearance for the Scarlets.

It will also be a big game for Scarlets loosehead Steffan Thomas, who will be facing his cousin Gareth Thomas who will be wearing the number one shirt for the Ospreys.

He said: “It is a nice chance to play against him again, we were on opposite sides earlier in the season, it is always a special moment for the family.

“I lived on the farm and Gareth was a few miles away, we were very close growing up. From a young age we played junior rugby in Newcastle Emlyn, both loved it and were always out in the fields kicking and passing the ball about.

“We spoke as a squad that we like being in pressure moments and it doesn’t get more pressured than this. It is a huge game, it is a derby day and it doesn’t get much bigger than that, but we have spoken about finishing the season as the top Welsh side as well.

“Their pack are full of Welsh internationals, from a personal point of view there is no better team to test yourself against when you are a young player coming through.

“Gareth hasn’t been in touch yet this week, he has been quite quiet, I am sure we will have a good chat after the game.”