The team shows a number of changes to the side that secured a Heineken Cup Quarter Final in defeating Racing Metro last weekend, as the opportunity to once again give youth its chance is taken by the Blues coaching team, albeit with a blend of experience most notably, the return of full back Ben Blair following a 15 month lay off.
Speaking of the match Cardiff Blues Backs Coach Gareth Baber said,
“The team we’ve selected to face Gloucester is a mixture of youth and experience.”
“It’s been a pretty full on season so far, so we’ve looked for some players to have a bit of time off and bit of a rest after our Heineken campaign.”
“Equally we have other players who need a bit of game time to keep the level of competition as high as possible within the squad.”
“I think it’s important for those players to get a chance to express themselves. Some of the younger ones who have been playing in the Premiership will come in and force their name forward.”
“It also gives the opportunity for other players in the squad who have picked up injuries over the last couple of months. It’s important for them to get back up to the level where we need them to be for these two LV= Cup games and pushing forward to the RaboDirect.”
“Tom James has played 13 previously for Cardiff RFC so it’s another angle in terms of different tactic as you play the game.”
“Tom is a winger and that’s where he sees himself, but in terms of a squad if you’ve got someone who can play wing and 13, it opens up avenues for you in terms of selection.”
Speaking of the return of Blair, Baber added:
“Ben Blair brings a vast amount of experience having been a solid front line player for us for the past five to six seasons.”
“Obviously he’s been out for a long time with his knee injury but we hope to see him back to his kicking best and controlling the back three for us, solid under high balls and driving our attack in wide areas.”
Blair has good memories of playing Gloucester having recorded 50 points against the West Country opponents in 3 previous games, including a win and 25 points in the EDF Energy Cup Final in 2009, a result which Gloucester avenged in the tournament the following season.
Elsewhere John Yapp is in line to make his 153rd appearance for the Blues and Chris Czekaj retains his place in a team that is captained by Macauley Cook.
Blues Team: 15. Ben Blair 14. Richard Mustoe 13. Tom James 12. Cory Allen 11. Chris Czekaj 10. Gareth Davies 9. Lewis Jones
8. Luke Hamilton 7. Thomas Young 6. Josh Navidi 5. Macauley Cook (capt) 4. Cory Hill 3. Sam Hobbs 2. Marc Breeze 1. John Yapp
16. Rhys Williams 17. Nathan Trevett 18. Ryan Harford 19. Matthew Screech 20. Ruben Tucker 21. Tom Rowlands 22. Rhys Patchell 23. Dan Fish
The group stage of the competition is completed for the Blues next weekend at home to Harlequins on Sunday 5th February, kick off 1pm.