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Hat-trick hero Wilkins captains Cardiff Blues under-18 as seven changes made

Pathway | 23rd June 2021

Ryan Wilkins captains a much changed Cardiff Blues under-18 outfit as they target a third successive victory when they take on Scarlets in Llanelli on Wednesday (KO 7.15pm).

The centre crossed for a hat-trick in Sunday’s convincing victory over Dragons at Ystrad Mynach and is one of seven players retained in the starting line-up.

Academy product Wilkins is joined in midfield by Harrison James, who featured at outside half on Sunday. The playmaker, who has been instrumental in both opening fixtures, replaces fellow Cardiff Schools alumni, Louie Hennessey-Booth, in the centre.

Cameron Winnett and Iwan Pyrs-Jones have both crossed the whitewash in recent weeks and retain their places in the back three, with Ty Lewis slotting in on the wing, replacing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Jacob Symes is reunited with Zac Fifield at half back, having linked up in the reverse fixture at Cardiff Arms Park, where the hosts ran away with a 47-10 victory.

With development players missing out on key game time due to the pandemic, Ethan Fackrell has been granted special permission to feature in the back row, depsite being 18 years old.

Kian Evans is introduced at number eight while Mackenzie Martin continues his run at blindside flanker.

Ioan Emmanuel, Jack Locke and Rhys Barratt form the front row, with locks Tom Caple and Zack Mutyambizi completing the pack.

Coach Dan Fish said: “We’ve been really pleased with the execution in some aspects of our game over the first two games, but we’re keen to really push this group to reach the best of their potential and continue to improve from week to week.

“Our attack has been particularly strong over the last two weeks, but we’re still working hard on the training ground on developing decision making and tactical nous in these young players.

“As has been the theme to our age grade campaigns in recent seasons, we want to give as many boys as possible a fair opportunity to take their learnings into game scenarios and show what they can do. That’s even more important due to the lack of game time recently.

“I’m excited to see what these boys can bring to the table. The bar has been set high, and a couple of the boys are handed well-earned rest, but the challenge for this group is to maintain or improve those performance levels.

“We’re expecting Scarlets to come out all guns blazing. They will be looking to prove a point after the reverse fixture at the Arms Park and we’ll need to be at our best on Wednesday.

“A special thanks goes to them for allowing Ethan Fackrell to feature as he gets some much-needed game-time.”

Gwilym Evans, who has skippered the side in the first two fixtures, is named on the bench alongside Sam Evans, who donned the number eight jersey last time out.

Kai Carnell, Amir Saleh, Jac Davies and Jac Williams are set for their first involvements since the return of rugby.

Cardiff Blues under-18: Cameron Winnett; Iwan Pyrs-Jones, Ryan Wilkins (capt.), Harrison James, Ty Lewis; Jacob Symes, Zac Fifield; Ioan Emmanuel, Jack Locke, Rhys Barratt, Tom Caple, Zack Mutyambizi, Mackenzie Martin, Ethan Fackrell, Kian Evans

Replacements: Harri Williams, Kai Carnell, Kian Mattravers, Jac Williams, Sam Evans, Chad Powell, Sam Harris, Amir Saleh, Jac Davies, Gwilym Evans