Cardiff Blues have named a new-look team to face Section Paloise as they aim to enhance their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup.
Danny Wilson’s side are currently joint top of Pool Four, having won three of their four fixtures in the competition, but Bath hold the advantage due to superior head-to-head match-point difference.
A victory at Stade du Hameau would keep the Blues’ chances of finishing top of the pool, to secure a home quarterfinal, alive but they have again been hampered by an extensive injury list.
In total Wilson has made eight changes to the side that lost out to Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 with 20-year-old Corey Domachowski set to make his European debut and first start for the region.
The loose-head prop comes in for Rhys Gill, who suffered concussion against Glasgow, with Brad Thyer also sustaining a head injury and captain Gethin Jenkins remaining on the sidelines with a bicep tear.
Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise and Jarrad Hoeata also come into the pack while there are a further four changes in the backs.
Cory Allen and Rhun Williams replace Alex Cuthbert and Blaine Scully, while Tomos Williams and Nicky Robinson form a new half-back combination with Steve Shingler moving to inside centre.
Head coach Wilson said: “It’s nice to be in a different competition and one where we have some confidence after picking up three wins from four games however we still have to manage the squad the best we can with a lot of injury problems.
“We have 18 players currently unavailable, including eight first team players. We are pretty depleted.
“The players we have are good players, they are working hard and they will pick up good opportunities and experiences. We are confident that if we perform we can go to Pau and pick up an away win this week.
“There will be the hostile environment of a French crowd but what an exciting environment and what a challenge it is to go there and beat them at their place. It would be fantastic if we achieve it.
“Their squad is full of star-studded names and ex-All Blacks, we don’t know if they will be selected but it’s a home game and French teams are a proud bunch at home.”
The Blues claimed a 27-12 victory over Pau at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in October and 15 players from that match-day squad are included on this occasion.
Following the clash in France, the Blues will take on Bristol at home on Saturday, January 21 (3pm) in the final fixture of the pool stages.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Cory Allen, Willis Halaholo, Steve Shingler, Rhun Williams; Nicky Robinson, Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, James Down, Macauley Cook, Sam Warburton (capt), Josh Navidi
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Anton Peikrishvili, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Cam Dolan, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Alex Cuthbert.
Unavailable for selection: