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International signings in line to feature in Blue and Blacks' URC opener

First Team News | 7th September 2022

Cardiff’s new signings and international contingent are in line to feature in next week’s BKT United Rugby Championship opener against Munster at Cardiff Arms Park (Friday, September 16, KO 7.35pm).

Rhys Carré, Willis Halaholo and Lopeti Timani are all named on the bench for the final pre-season encounter against Zebre Parma on Friday, but Dai Young is set to be boosted by the presence of Taulupe Faletau, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams and Josh Adams - amongst others - for the campaign’s curtain raiser.

While Josh Navidi is set to miss out due a recent neck injury suffered in the third Test match against South Africa over the summer, the director of rugby is pleased to be able to call on a fit and firing international contingent.

Young revealed: “I’m really pleased with how the internationals have turned up for pre-season in really good condition.

“They've recharged their batteries but they've also done the work and we're really happy with where they're at.

“Apart from Josh Navidi they're all - in agreement with the WRU and Wales coach Wayne Pivac - available for the Munster game and will all be involved in the 23, maybe with the exception of James (Ratti) who has a bit of a strain and probably has an outside chance of being available.

“We want to start well. It’s important after the way we ended last season that we start as well as possible. 

“Obviously, they can’t all play every game in the first block, so we will have to manage that process. But my intention would be to go as strong as we can for the first game at home.

Halaholo and new signing Timani will feature as replacements against Zebre on Friday, having recovered from recent niggles.

Young insists they will carefully manage the duo as he gave further updates on the injuries of Ellis Jenkins and fellow back row Navidi.

The former Wales prop added: “Timani has come on board, but neither him nor Willis have done too much training. They picked up little niggles and that’s why they’re on the bench.

“I don’t see them getting too much game time but we want to get them out there. 

“They’re two quality players in their own rights. They’ve had niggles, but have been training for two weeks so they’re not a million miles away.

“Ellis has had a little bit of a problematic knee or niggle during pre-season. He’s back in modified training this week but is still probably two or three weeks away from being available for selection.

“He’s dipped his toe in a little bit this week, will do more again next week and is probably three weeks away from full training if everything goes to plan.

“Josh has had two injections in his neck to settle the injury down, so the next week or so will determine where he is, because it takes a little bit of time for it to actually work.

“Realistically, even if we get the response we would like, he’s probably still around three or four weeks away. Josh could be anything from three to six weeks.”

“Everyone is confident, and he’s seen the specialist, who felt he needed two injection which had to be a week apart. Normally that takes seven to ten days to really kick in and then he can start his rehab.

“Depending on how quickly that goes will determine how quickly he comes back. But we have no reason to suggest any different.”

Another player set for his first involvement of the season is Thomas Young, who will wear the Blue and Black jersey for the first time since his summer move from Wasps.

The openside flanker starts alongside James Botham and skipper Josh Turnbull in the Cardiff back row, which kicks off his latest chapter at the Arms Park.

“It’s well documented that Thomas has been here from boy to man. When I was here before he was a ball boy, then went into the academy,” explained the director of rugby.

“That didn’t quite work out for him, but he went away and proved himself.

“The important thing, to be fair to him, was that he went to Wasps as my son but came away having scored the most tries by any Wasps forward ever.

“He’s more than made his own mark, it’s nothing to do with me.

“We’re pleased to have him back here. He’s really proud of his roots and he’s really looking forward to running out at the Arms Park again.”

Tickets are available now for Cardiff's BKT United Rugby Championship opener against Munster at Cardiff Arms Park. Join us under Friday Night Lights at the capital on September 16 by purchasing your ticket NOW