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Evans captains Cardiff Blues under-18 in long awaited return to rugby

Pathway | 11th June 2021

Gwilym Evans will captain Cardiff Blues under-18 as they make a long-awaited return to rugby against Scarlets at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday.

The Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf product is one of eight Cardiff Blues academy members named in the matchday 25, as he is joined by Mackenzie Martin and Sam Evans in the back row.

Rhys Barratt, Harri Williams and Owen Hethrel form the front row, with locks Tom Caple and Tirion Bowen combining to complete the pack.

Cameron Winnett, who has been training alongside the first team at Cardiff Arms Park in recent weeks, lines up at full back, with Iwan Pyrs-Jones and Jake Thomas named on the wings.

Louie Hennessey-Booth, who has been playing for Hartpury over the last few weeks, is reunited with Harrison James in midfield. The centres, who signed academy deals with the club in March 2020, have formed a partnership at Llanishen RFC, Llanishen High School and Cardiff Schools, and now feature together at under-18 rugby.

Completing the line up are half back partners Zac Fifield and Jacob Symes.

Dan Fish, who takes charge of the side alongside Craig Everett, said: “These boys have had a tough year, so we’ve seen how excited they’ve been to finally get back out on the field.

“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm in training, but this game has given them an end-goal and I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on.

“It’s important to keep the performance in perspective. We want to see where they’re at in terms of their development but they’ve missed out on a lot of rugby so there will be a certain element of managing expectations. The important thing is that they’re starting to get games under their belts, the ball back in their hands and get a feel of a matchday.

“There’s a couple of academy boys in there, and the likes of Cam and Harrison James have been training alongside the senior squad recently. We’ll probably look to some of those boys to drive performance and standards around them and show leadership.

“We’re all just excited to get going with this series of games now. It’s been a long time coming but hopefully we’ll see some good rugby over the coming weeks.

Academy centre and Wales under-20 hopeful Ryan Wilkins is named among the replacements.

Cardiff Blues will take on Scarlets in a reverse fixture while also facing Dragons in a double-header.

Cardiff Blues under-18: Cameron Winnett; Iwan Pyrs-Jones, Louie Hennessey-Booth, Harrison James, Jake Thomas; Jacob Symes, Zac Fifield; Rhys Barratt, Harri Williams, Owen Hethrel, Tom Caple, Tirion Bowen, Mackenzie Martin, Gwilym Evans (capt.), Sam Evans

Replacements: Owen Williams, Ioan Emmanuel, Kian Mattravers, Dylan Thomas, Zack Mutyambizi, Kian Evans, Orson James, Ryan Wilkins, Sam Harris, Ty Lewis