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Centurion Williams returns for European clash of the capitals

First Team News | 1st April 2021

Tomos Williams will make his 100th appearance for Cardiff Blues as a sextet of Six Nations stars return for the European Challenge Cup last 16 clash with London Irish on Good Friday (5.30pm).

Centurion Williams, Cory Hill, Josh Navidi, James Botham, Willis Halaholo and Josh Adams, who all featured for Wales against France two weeks ago, go straight into the starting line up for the Brentford Community Stadium showdown.

They are joined by fellow Six Nations title winning squad members Dillon Lewis, Jarrod Evans and Hallam Amos, while Rhys Carré and Lloyd Williams are named among the replacements.

In total Cardiff Blues director of rugby, Dai Young has made 10 changes to the team that finished the Guinness Pro14 with a bonus-point victory over Edinburgh Rugby, with a European quarter-final against Bath or Zebre now up for grabs.

Young said: “It is obviously great to welcome our full Wales Six Nations contingent back for London Irish and they give us real quality and depth.

“There has been a real bounce and increase in intensity in training this week, not only due to their return following a Six Nations title but fact that this is a knock-out game in European rugby.

“We had plenty of selection headaches and have picked the strongest possible 23 to face a strong London Irish outfit. There’s a lot of impact on the bench and they will be equally important as the starting XV.

“Irish have a lot of big name players and caps, play an attacking brand of rugby and have enjoyed some good form so it certainly makes for an exiting encounter.

“These are the games you play for. You always want to be in contention at the business end of the season. This is a must win game and we have the opportunity to go a step further.

“The boys are highly motivated and this will be a great gauge to see where we are in our continued improvement.”

Josh Turnbull continues to captain Cardiff and is joined in the back row by Wales duo Botham and Navidi, with Ellis Jenkins not considered for selection due to a tight groin.

Hill returns to partner Seb Davies in an all international second-row, while tight-head prop Lewis packs down with Kristian Dacey and Corey Domachowski in the front-row.

Williams, who makes his 100th first team appearance six years after making his debut, partners Jarrod Evans at half-back while Halaholo is reunited with Rey Lee-Lo in a familiar midfield. Adams and Amos both return to starting jerseys with Matthew Morgan continuing at full-back.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan, Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Hallam Amos, Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Cory Hill, Josh Navidi, James Botham, Josh Turnbull (capt).

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Carré, Dmitri Arhip, Rory Thornton, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Ben Thomas, Jason Harries.

The following players were unavailable for selection:

Short term:

Ellis Jenkins - managed due to groin strain

Owen Lane - hamstring

Teddy Williams - shoulder

Sam Moore - knee

Medium to long-term:

Brad Thyer - calf

Will Boyde - orbital fracture

Garyn Smith - knee

Shane Lewis-Hughes - shoulder

Mason Grady - knee

Aled Summerhill - wrist.