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2010 heroes look forward to fascinating semi final encounter at CAP

17th April 2018

Former Cardiff Blues favourites, Jamie Roberts and Martyn Williams, believes Saturday's Challenge Cup semi final against Pau has the ingredients to be a fascinating spectacle at the Welsh capital.

Roberts and Williams were part of the 2010 side that clinched the Amlin Challenge Cup with a 28-21 victory over a Toulon side which included Jonny Wilkinson, Sonny Bill Williams, Tana Umaga and Juan Fernandez Lobbe in Marseille.

Speaking on BBC Wales’ Scrum V, Roberts, who currently plays for Harlequins, is excited by the mix of youth and experience in the Cardiff Blues side.

“The most pleasing thing is the younger players  and how quickly they’ve come into professional rugby, at that level, and coped really well,” said the 94-times capped Welsh international.

“That’s a testament to Matt Sherratt and Danny Wilson because it holds the region in a great place moving forwards. These are the guys who will fly the flags for the region for years to come.

“As soon as Gethin Jenkins comes straight back into the game, he knows the pace of the game and knows the game inside-out.

“He’s such a talented player and in the last month he’s been hugely influential. I understand he’s signed for another year and congratulations to him.

“It’s semi final cup rugby now so form will go out of the window a little bit and it will be down to whoever can deal with the pressure.

“It will be one hell of a match and fingers-crossed Cardiff Blues can do it.”

Meanwhile, former back row, Williams, believes the game could be decided by the form of Cardiff Blues’ back row and centre partnerships, who have been heavily-influential in the recent run of good form in both European and domestic competitions.

Williams said: “Once you reach a knockout stage, you can win one of two meaningful cups in a season and this is one of them.

“It’s a semi-final, it’s a big game and it’s a huge occasion for the region.

“All three of the back row are adept over the ball, and they’ve been phenomenal.

“Josh Navidi has had the season of his lifetime. He is so physically strong, his work-rate is incredible, he wins turnovers and his upper body strength and engine is phenomenal.

“When Nick Williams plays, the Blues do invariably win. He is such a big influence with his ball carrying. When he’s close to the line he’s so difficult to control, even when he’s knocked back, and he can treat the ball like a tennis ball in his hands. 

“Then there’s Ellis Jenkins, who is a bit of a glue in the side.

“He’s got brilliant ball-skills as well as being fantastic over the ball and they’ve really gelled as an unit.

“They are the heart of everything the team does well and they will be so influential coming up against Steffon Armitage and ex- Wallabies back row, Ben Mowan, if he’s fit and firing for Pau.

“If Cardiff Blues are to win, they have to be on-form.

“[Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo] over the last couple of weeks, have seemed to have really worked out the defensive system.

“With ball-in-hand, they’re very physical and very strong and got good pace. You’ve also got Garyn Smith who has come in and done a fantastic job, but when Lee-Lo and Halaholo are on it, they’re so dominant.

“Lee-Lo has been fantastic since he came on-board and on that pitch they enjoy themselves. 

“An interesting side-note is Conrad Smith, if he does play, that him and Halaholo were at the Hurricanes together.”