Blog Banner

Botham returns for Munster trip

First Team News | 27th May 2021

Wales international James Botham will make his first Cardiff Blues appearance since April in Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash against Munster Rugby (KO 7.35pm).

Dai Young has made two changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Limerick, with flanker Botham, who last featured in the European Challenge Cup quarter final defeat to London Irish, recovering from a recent calf injury to take his place in the back row alongside James Ratti and Josh Turnbull.

Utility forward Turnbull, who also captains the side at Thomond Park, will move to third in the Guinness PRO14’s top appearance makers, making his 207th Championship outing and over-taking former Edinburgh and Scotland hooker, Ross Ford.

The other change is made in the front row, as Corey Domachowski is recalled to the XV to link up with fellow homegrown talents, Kristian Dacey and Dillon Lewis.

Seb Davies and Cory Hill form an unchanged second row combination, while Young has also opted for an unchanged back-line, which includes British and Irish Lion in-waiting, Josh Adams.

Director of rugby, Young, said: “We’re not too far away from what most people would perceive as our best 23 from the boys that are available.

“We’re not holding back for this one, but obviously we’ve still got a few guys to come back into contention, like Rey Lee-Lo, Owen Lane and Max Llewellyn.

“It’s a bit tight in the back three and centre for us, but it’s good to welcome Matthew Morgan back. We’ve got him through the week and that’s a bonus because we didn’t expect him to be back until the following week.

“When you get to this stage of the season you need to be happy if you don’t pick up a couple of injuries in a game.

“Josh [Adams] is also eager to play, but it is a difficult situation. You want to make sure these boys get on the plane, and support them with that, but they’re also fully aware that they can’t be wrapped in cotton wool because they need to hit the ground running.

“I’m sure he’s getting excited for the tour, but he’s also excited to play out in Munster. I can’t speak highly enough of his attitude both on and off the field.”

There are welcome returns on the bench for Dmitri Arhip and Matthew Morgan, who both return following injuries and are in-line for their first appearances in the Rainbow Cup.

They are joined among the replacements by two further members of Wales’ recent Six Nations success - Rhys Carré and Lloyd Williams.

Cardiff Blues will be seeking a first win in Munster since 2016, where a Tom James brace inspired the visitors to a stunning win in Cork. However, the capital city club have never secured victory in Limerick.

Munster head into the encounter on the back of a home defeat to Connacht last time out, but currently sit in second place in the Rainbow Cup table, a point ahead of Young’s men.

Young added: “Munster are formidable at home, and we’ve only won out there once over the last five years, and never achieved that in Limerick itself.

“As I told the players, it’s a fantastic challenge and would be a fantastic way to make a bit of noise.

“If we’re looking for a statement to show we’re going in the right direction, this is a great place to go get that statement.

“Obviously Munster will have a big say in that. I read Graham’s [Rowntree] comments this week about how this is a do or die match for them. They know that they need to win if they are to qualify.

“So to go out there and get a result would be huge for us. History tells us we don’t do it too often, but it’s important that we’re starting to meet these challenges head on.”

Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos; Jason Harries, Willis Halaholo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Cory Hill, Josh Turnbull (capt.), James Botham, James Ratti

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Carré, Dmitri Arhip, Rory Thornton, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Harri Millard, Matthew Morgan