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Anglo-Welsh Cup a huge opportunity

11th November 2016

Billy Millard has emphasised the importance of the opportunity given to up and coming players in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Cardiff Blues will kick-off their campaign in the competition against a strong Exeter Chiefs team at Sandy Park
The Blues have nine players involved in Wales’ squad for the autumn internationals and have given a host of senior players a recovery week.
But Millard has recalled how the all-conquering 2009 Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign had humble beginnings and built momentum as the season progressed.
The Cardiff Blues rugby general manager was backs and attack coach at the time and reckons this season’s up and coming hopefuls have a similar chance to shine.
Millard said: “It was a brilliant season the year we won the competition culminating in that memorable 50-12 victory over Gloucester.
“But it is important point out it was a campaign which grew as we won with victories over Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers and Bath. We picked up momentum as we went along and it gave the entire organisation a lift.
“Leigh Halfpenny came of age in that season having only made one appearance previously and Andy Powell reignited his career.
“This season it is a younger and less experienced group but it is a chance for them to go to Exeter and get a win while some of the senior players are on international duty or getting a rest ahead of our return to the Guinness PRO12 campaign. 
“It’s a great opportunity on three levels – it gives senior players like James Down, Kirby Myhill, Aled Summerhill and Garyn Smith game time, developing academy players get a taste of a fully professional senior environment in a game week and we get the chance to look at a few Premiership players we may have to make a decision on in the future.”

Cardiff Blues will be captained by Garyn Smith, who won young player of the season in 2015-16, and included three debutants in the starting line-up.

There are a further seven players on the bench, who could make their first competitive appearance for the region, with 19 of the match-day 23 products of the age-grade system.