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Belcher captains Cardiff for Ospreys test

First Team News | 5th October 2023

A trio of established stars have returned to the Cardiff Rugby side to face the Ospreys in their final pre-season friendly ahead of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Liam Belcher and newly capped Keiron Assiratti come into the front-row after missing last week’s victory over the Scarlets, with the former captaining the side, while Rey Lee-Lo starts alongside Ben Thomas in a familiar centre pairing. 

The starting line-up once again offers a blend of youth and experience but has a more familiar feel with the likes of Ellis Jenkins and James Botham starting.

Cardiff Rugby head coach Matt Sherratt said: “The young boys did well last week so we wanted to give them another opportunity, in a different environment going away from home. 

“The Ospreys will be another step up in intensity, as will Benetton in the URC, and this is all about developing our squad and giving players opportunities in preparation for the season ahead.

“We have started more of the experienced boys with them and are looking forward to a good test in Swansea. The Ospreys are renowned for their pack and the quality of their set-piece but they are also working to develop their game so I am sure it will be a really important step in our preparations.”

Assiratti and Belcher are joined in the front-row by Rhys Carré while Shane Lewis-Hughes continues in the second-row alongside another new Wales international in Teddy Williams.  Jenkins and Botham combine with Alex Mann to complete the pack. 

Ellis Bevan continues with Tinus de Beer at half-back, with Owen Lane, Theo Cabngo and Jacob Beetham forming the back three once more. 

Among the replacements there is another familiar, but surprising, inclusion with Willis Halaholo included. 

The fan favourite is currently out of contract but has completed his rehab with the club and now has the opportunity to return to action. 

Sherratt added: “Willis has done all of his rehab with us and has taken part in team training for the past couple of weeks. This is the next step in his recovery and we are happy to give him that opportunity. 

“He has been a big part of this club and we are pleased to help him with game-time, while he is also helping us with a bit more depth.”

Cardiff Rugby side to take on the Ospreys on Friday, October 6.

Cardiff Rugby: J Beetham; O Lane, R Lee-Lo, B Thomas, T Cabango; T de Beer, E Bevan; R Carré, L Belcher (capt), K Assiratti, S Lewis-Hughes, T Williams, A Mann, E Jenkins, J Botham.

Replacements: E Lloyd, E Daniel, R Barratt, R Litterick, C Parker, S Davies, L De La Rua, M Aubrey, A Robson, H Millard, M Martin, R Thornton, W Halaholo, A Summerhill, C Winnett.