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Hodges urges the next generation to take their chance in Anglo-Welsh Cup

9th November 2017

Richard Hodges has urged the next generation of Cardiff Blues stars to stake their claim in Saturday's Anglo-Welsh clash against Newcastle Falcons.

A host of up and coming players have been blooded by Wales’ Capital Region in recent seasons with the likes of Keiron Assiratti, Corey Domachowski, Seb Davies, Jarrod Evans and Rhun Williams all making a major contribution in the current campaign.

The cross-border cup competition offers another opportunity to expose emerging talent to regional rugby and Hodges, who will lead the coaching team during the competition, has urged his charges to take their chance.

Hodges said: “It’s tough but this is a great competition to learn about the next tier of boys coming through. 

“You look at the Blues so far this year and the amount of youngsters having opportunities, we have been surprised by how well they have adapted to that opportunity and taken it. 

“You look at the likes of Jarrod, Seb, Rhun, Corey Dom, Azza and they have done really well. Now it’s unearthing the next ones, Owen Lane, Ben Jones, Shane Lewis-Hughes . It’s a big weekend for people like that.”

Hodges expects a formidable challenge from the Falcons, who have been soaring high in the Premiership this season and has simplified the Blues’ game-plan to accommodate so many new faces.

But he also knows it is important to maintain the momentum that has been building with four wins from five matches, ahead of a return to the PRO14.

He added:” We’ll try to simplify things. The whole of our academy is in for these two weeks – not all of them will play but it is also about exposing them to a normal training week as a professional.

 “For some of them it’s their first time in the building and then at the same time there’s some experienced players who haven’t had as much rugby as they would have wished.

“We have a good mixture ourselves of youth and experience, quite a few boys who have played some Premiership and B&I Cup rugby, have been waiting for an opportunity and want to get hold of a shirt and a game when we go back to PRO14.

“We have a hungry group and it’s about taking things back to basics really and how quickly we, as coaches, can mould them into an effective unit.

“They had a cracking win at the weekend down at Wasps which we have looked at in detail, a couple of their A-league games as well against Sale and Northampton. 

“They are having a fantastic season, they mixed and matched their side last week but we’re planning for them to be a little bit stronger this week because they are back into the Premiership against Wasps the following week.”