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Arhip makes 100th Guinness PRO14 appearance in Scarlets derby encounter

First Team News | 8th January 2021

Dmitri Arhip will make his 100th Guinness PRO14 appearance as Cardiff Blues make eight changes for Saturday’s encounter against Scarlets at Cardiff City Stadium (KO 7.35pm).

Wales’ Capital Region have been boosted by the return of international trio Jarrod Evans, Cory Hill and James Botham, who missed out on last week’s defeat to Ospreys.

Willis Halaholo, who returned to action from the bench last week, makes his first start for the region since mid-November, while Matthew Morgan is introduced at full back, making his 99th appearance for Cardiff Blues.

Josh Adams and Hallam Amos take their place on the wings as Tomos Williams partners fellow international Evans at half back in the final festive derby.

Up front, academy products Corey Domachowski and Liam Belcher are brought into the front row to join Arhip, while James Ratti forms a new-look second row partnership with skipper Hill.

After failing a late fitness test on New Year’s Day, newly capped Botham returns to replace Alun Lawrence in the back row.

Following the departure of John Mulvihill earlier this week, Richard Hodges takes charge of the side for the derby encounter with interim Director of Rugby, Dai Young, starting his role on Monday.

The defence coach said: “It’s been business as usual this week and the boys have been really sharp and focused in training.

“To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better fixture to bounce back from last week’s disappointment. We know the strength of the Scarlets squad, but that is a huge motivation for the boys to go out there and prove a point.

“First and foremost we want to get the performance right, and that’s been the message all week. These boys can take a lot of confidence from past performances against Scarlets, and we’re looking forward for more of the same.

“It looks like it’s going to be dry, crisp conditions and, with two positive sides going out there, it should be a good encounter.

“We’re welcoming a number of boys back from injury, including Willis who is making his first start in two months, and they’re all itching to make up for lost time.

“Finally, it’s a really big milestone for Dmitri to reach 100 games in the PRO14. Between his time at Ospreys and then moving here to Cardiff, he’s made Wales a home from home and we’re all delighted for him. It signals the impact he's made since moving here.”

There is plenty of experience on the bench with four internationals named amongst the replacements, including Dillon Lewis, who sat out the defeat to Ospreys.

They are joined by Lawrence, Ethan Lewis, Ben Thomas and Aled Summerhill, who take up the total of academy graduates in the matchday squad

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Hallam Amos; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, James Ratti, Cory Hill (capt.), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Josh Turnbull

Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Rhys Carré, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Alun Lawrence, Lloyd Williams, Ben Thomas, Aled Summerhill