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Cardiff Blues make seven changes for New Year's Day clash against Ospreys

First Team News | 31st December 2020

Cardiff Blues have made seven changes for the New Year’s Day derby against Ospreys at Cardiff City Stadium.

John Mulvihill’s side will be looking to make it two from two in this season’s festive encounters, having claimed a gritty victory over Dragons at Rodney Parade on Boxing Day.

Two internationals are welcomed into the backline, with Samoa star Rey Lee-Lo returning to the midfield to partner Garyn Smith.

Tomos Williams replaces fellow international scrum half, Lloyd Williams, in the number nine jersey while Jason Tovey comes in at outside half.

There is a new-look prop partnership in the front row as Dmitri Arhip replaces Dillon Lewis on the tighthead, while Rhys Carré is given the nod at loosehead, making his first start of the season for the region.

Rory Thornton pairs up with Seb Davies in the boiler room, while Shane Lewis-Hughes returns to the starting XV, joining James Botham and Josh Turnbull in the back row.

21 of the matchday squad are Welsh qualified, with a total of 13 coming through the Cardiff Blues academy system.

Head coach John Mulvihill said: “It wasn’t the prettiest of wins last week, but it was a real tough, gritty contest and we can come away with confidence after winning that arm-wrestle and sealing the victory.

“We’re really looking forward to going out on a quality surface at Cardiff City Stadium and hopefully better weather conditions will make it a more open and entertaining spectacle for everyone.

“This week, we’ve looked back at some games where we’ve really shown our attacking identity, and we want to channel that.

“We are missing one player, who was available for selection, due to a positive test and another as a close contact, and this is the strongest possible side we can select at the current time.

“The changes we’ve made just highlights the overall depth we have in the squad, and we’re all gunning to kick off the New Year with a good victory.

“Welsh derbies are unique. They have that intensity and you can feel that all the way through the working week. We’re excited for the challenge ahead.”

Willis Halaholo and Liam Belcher return from injuries to take their place on the bench for the Leckwith encounter.

Outside half Luke Scully, who arrived at the capital from Worcester Warriors over the summer, could be in-line for a debut against the side he represented at age grade rugby.

Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos; Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Garyn Smith, Aled Summerhill; Jason Tovey, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Kristian Dacey, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Josh Turnbull

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, James Ratti, Alun Lawrence, Lloyd Williams, Luke Scully, Willis Halaholo

The following players were not considered for selection due to injury:


Josh Navidi is receiving regular consultation from a neurological expert and is being monitored closely by our medical team. The prognosis is that he will return to play in a matter of weeks, dependent on his progression to full training.

Rhys Gill has also returned to full training after recovering from a ruptured bicep.

Jason Harries is in the final stages of his rehab and will return to full training next week.

Ellis Jenkins has continued to make good progress however his return has been delayed by a period of self isolation.

Cory Hill was ruled out of contention due to a short-term shoulder injury.

Medium and long-term:

Will Davies-King - knee

Teddy Williams - shoulder

Olly Robinson - shoulder

Iestyn Harris - neck

Owen Lane - Foot.

Will Boyde - Facial fracture