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Botham back for Boxing Day derby

First Team News | 23rd December 2023

James Botham has handed Cardiff a Boxing Day boost as the Blue and Blacks make two changes to face the Dragons. 

The Wales international has been out of action since suffering a hamstring injury in pre-season but  has been given the all clear for the Arms Park showdown. 

Botham pulls on the number seven jersey, alongside in-form youngsters Alex Mann and Mackenzie Martin in the back-row. 

The only other change to the starting XV, that narrowly lost out to Bath in a ten-try thriller a week ago, sees Rhys Carre come in for Corey Domachowski, who is named on the bench. 

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt said: “This is always a brilliant time of the year and we are looking forward to running out at a packed Arms Park for a derby against our nearest rivals. 

“Our crowd has been fantastic this year, they have really got behind the team and I have no doubt that there will be another electric atmosphere on Boxing Day. 

“The Dragons are coming off a pleasing couple of weeks in Europe and will really be targeting this fixture. These derbies are always tense, tight fixtures and we expect no different this week. 

“They have a bit more ball movement this season and while they maybe went away from that a little bit when we played them in October, we are expecting to pass and attack a bit more this time round. 

“That makes for a great encounter - two teams that want to play, combined with the physicality, intensity and atmosphere of a Welsh derby.” 

With Botham back in action, 19-year-old Lucas de la Rua drops to the bench, where he is joined by three Welsh internationals in Domachowski, Seb Davies and Willis Halaholo. 

Cardiff: Cam Winnett; Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Mason Grady; Tinus de Beer, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carre, Liam Belcher, Keiron Assiratti, Rory Thornton, Teddy Williams, Alex Mann, James Botham, Mackenzie Martin.

Replacements: Evan Lloyd, Corey Domachowski, Rhys Litterick, Seb Davies, Lucas de la Rua, Ellis Bevan, Willis Halaholo, Gabriel Hamer-Webb.