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Eight changes made as Cardiff host Newcastle

First Team News | 13th January 2023

Cardiff Rugby have made eight changes as they turn attention to the European Challenge Cup on Sunday (1pm) against Newcastle Falcons.

The Blue and Blacks currently top Pool A after claiming maximum points from their opening two outings, and now have their sights set on securing a home fixture in the Round of 16.

Dai Young’s men head into Sunday’s Arms Park encounter following three consecutive Welsh derbies, which have taken their toll and the director of rugby has been forced to make a number of changes.

Having impressed from the bench in recent weeks, and with Rey Lee-Lo ruled out, Mason Grady is promoted into the starting XV to partner Ben Thomas in midfield.

An experienced half back combination of Lloyd Williams and Rhys Priestland is given the nod, with Tomos Williams sidelined and Jarrod Evans on the bench, while Jason Harries comes into the back three to replace Liam Williams - ruled out following a HIA. 

Fellow British and Irish Lion, Josh Adams, makes a positional change to full back.

Up front, the homegrown prop duo of Corey Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti are named either side of hooker Kirby Myhill, while Teddy Williams is drafted into the second row to link up with Seb Davies.

A single change is made in the back row as Ellis Jenkins is handed the number seven jersey, replacing Thomas Young who will be sidelined for up to three months with a calf injury. Captain Josh Turnbull and number eight Taulupe Faletau complete the line up.

Young said: “We were disappointed to lose two home derbies recently but this competition gives us a change of focus and an opportunity to compete for silverware.

“Our victory up in Newcastle at the beginning of last month was one of our more complete performances and that is what we need to get back towards.

“We are expecting a tough challenge and Newcastle to be stronger than on that occasion and they will be travelling down to Cardiff with plenty of confidence following an impressive win over Leicester Tigers.

“We have selected a strong side and the target for us now is to secure a home fixture in the last 16. The club has a good history in this competition and we want to go as far as possible.

“So these next two fixtures in Europe are really important both in terms of giving us the best possible chance in the competition but also to regain some confidence and momentum to take back into the league.”

Efan Daniel is in line to make his European debut on the bench, with James Botham also returning to the matchday squad after recovering from injury.

Cardiff will travel to Brive next week to complete the pool stages before a BKT United Rugby Championship trip to Leinster completes the latest block of games for the Blue and Blacks.

Cardiff: Josh Adams; Owen Lane, Mason Grady, Ben Thomas, Jason Harries; Rhys Priestland, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Kirby Myhill, Keiron Assiratti, Seb Davies, Teddy Williams, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Ellis Jenkins, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Efan Daniel, Rhys Carré, Will Davies-King, James Ratti, James Botham, Ellis Bevan, Jarrod Evans, Harri Millard 

Unavailable for selection: Josh Navidi, Willis Halaholo, Jacob Beetham, Gwilym Bradley, Kristian Dacey, Jamie Hill, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango, Dillon Lewis, Liam Belcher, Liam Williams, Rey Lee-Lo, Thomas Young, Tomos Williams, Dmitri Arhip, Lopeti Timani