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Grand Slammers Return for Blues

25th March 2005

Six of the Blues’ Grand Slam heroes return to the regional fold when the first of the crucial last three matches of the Celtic League campaign kicks-off in Glasgow on Friday.

Only Rhys Williams, still troubled by a leg injury, is missing from the 22-man squad that flies north to take on the Scottish region at Hughenden (kick-off 7.30pm).

Director of coaching David Young is utilising all six stars in his starting line-up. In the pack Gethin Jenkins switches to tight-head prop and John Yapp wears the number 1 shirt. In the back row both skipper Martyn Williams and the Blues’ latest cap Robin Sowden-Taylor play as flankers. Robert Sidoli is the fifth member of the Grand Slam squad in the Blues’ pack. Behind the scrum Tom Shanklin plays at outside centre.

David Young said, “It’s a real boost to have all seven of these players back with us this week. Though Rhys has been unable to train he has been as positive as everyone else in helping us focus on what lies ahead in the next three weeks or so. Losing at Llanelli was a disappointment but to some extent we still have our European destiny in our own hands. Winning against Glasgow will set us up nicely for the back-to-back home fixtures against Ulster and The Borders next month. If we win all three we should be in pole position for a Heineken Cup play-off match in Italy in late-May.”

Martyn Williams added: “I am looking forward to the remaining fixtures with the Blues. We know we face an uphill struggle but it’s a challenge we won’t shirk. As for those of us who are returning from the Wales’ camp, the rest of the boys in the regional set-up won’t let us bask in any glory. They have brought us straight back down to earth in training and we all know we have a job to do in Glasgow.”

One other change from the Blues team that played against the Scarlets last week sees the return of Rhys Thomas at hooker. Players not considered for selection because of injury were Shaun James, Deiniol Jones, Martin Jones and Rhys Williams.

The Blues beat Glasgow Rugby 24-19 in the Celtic League home fixture at Cardiff Arms Park last November.

This week’s team: (15) Nick Macleod; (14) Dean Dewdney, (13) Tom Shanklin, (12) Tristan Davies, (11) Craig Morgan; (10) Nick Robinson (9) Ryan Powell; (1) John Yapp, (2) Rhys Thomas, (3) Gethin Jenkins, (4) Craig Quinnell, (5) Robert Sidoli, (6) Robin Sowden-Taylor, (8) Kort Schubert, (7) Martyn Williams, captain

Replacements: (16) Ben Evans, (17) Gareth Williams, (18) Nathan Budgett, (19) Nathan Thomas, (20) Maama Molitika, (21) Nick Walne, (22) Jonny Vaughton