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Cardiff welcome senior players back for Boxing Day derby

First Team News | 24th December 2021

Cardiff Rugby welcome a host of senior players back for the Boxing Day derby clash against Scarlets at Cardiff Arms Park (KO 3.00pm).

With 42 player unavailable for the recent European double-header, a mix of Welsh internationals, academy youngsters and semi-professional players proudly represented the club against Toulouse and Harlequins over the past fortnight.

However, those who were in enforced quarantine following the trip to South Africa have now returned to contention, as Ellis Jenkins leads the side out for the derby encounter.

James Botham, who impressed in the Champions Cup upon his return from injury, also retains his starting spot in the back row - reverting to number eight - with Will Boyde introduced at openside.

Matthew Screech is recalled into the second row, linking up with fellow academy graduate Seb Davies, while the front row trio of Corey Domachowski, Kirby Myhill and Dmitri Arhip complete the pack.

Lloyd Williams and Rhys Priestland will start at half back, with Ben Thomas slotting in at inside centre to combine with Rey Lee-Lo in midfield. 

An exciting back three combination of Josh Adams, Owen Lane and Matthew Morgan complete the starting line-up.

Ahead of the club’s first URC clash since October, director of rugby Dai Young said: “The guys over the past two weeks did the jersey proud. They went out there and I don’t think we could expect any more from the team. They were in both games for a big part of the contest.

“Nobody could have asked more from those two squads, they really did the club and themselves proud, and we’ve challenged the squad this week to back that up.

“They put a smile of everyone’s face in quarantine because we were all over the moon that they did so well.

“Obviously there were some difficult times for us while in quarantine, but having been back together at the Arms Park we’re now fully focused on Sunday and looking forward to getting back out there in a Welsh derby.

“We have to be honest as well with how disappointing playing in front of no crowd is, especially over the festive period.

“Playing a local derby at a full house at the Arms Park is something that doesn’t happen every week. So we’re very disappointed to lose that occasion and to lose what would’ve been a fantastic opportunity.

“That said, the boys are still really excited about a Welsh derby and are determined to give our fans something to celebrate, even if it is from home.”

Six of the replacements have come through the club’s pathway, including international players in Shane Lewis-Hughes, Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans.

Will Davies-King is retained in the matchday 23 after featuring in the European double-header, while Liam Belcher, Brad Thyer, James Ratti and Jason Harries return to action.

Both teams head into Boxing Day with two games in hand and sit in mid-table in the United Rugby Championship. The Blue and Blacks will be looking to extend a three-game winning streak over their west Wales rivals.

Cardiff Rugby: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams; Rhys Priestland, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Matthew Screech, Ellis Jenkins (capt.), Will Boyde, James Botham

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Brad Thyer, Will Davies-King, James Ratti, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Jason Harries