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Jenkins and Grady start in Connacht test

First Team News | 19th February 2021

Ellis Jenkins starts in the Guinness PRO14 for the first time in 27 months as his comeback continues against Connacht on Saturday.

The Wales international returned to friendly action against the Ospreys last week and produced a try-scoring performance in the Arms Park victory.

But he will now take another step forward in a crucial Conference B clash at the Sportsground, Galway. 

Cardiff Blues (third) are currently one place behind the Irish outfit, who also have a game in hand, and just one point ahead of the Scarlets.

Interim Director of Rugby Dai Young has also been boosted by the return of Wales duo Rhys Carré and Lloyd Williams for the trip while 18-year-old Mason Grady makes his first senior start.

Young said: “The performances against the Scarlets have given us the opportunity to achieve something this season where as a couple of weeks ago it looked like it was all lost.

“We have to have that consistency in performance and if we play like we did against the Scarlets then it takes a good team to beat us.

“Everybody knows the challenge that is away to Connacht. It is always a difficult place to go, conditions are never conducive to playing entertaining rugby and on top of that they are a very good team.

“We will have to be at our best but we’re looking forward to it. It’s up to us, both on the weekend and in the next couple of weeks to prove that we are still a strong outfit without our internationals and I’m confident we can do that.

“There are no excuses. I believe we have a squad that can go there and compete and I’m looking forward to the squad proving me right. That’s what we have to do.”

Jenkins packs down in an all international back-row with Shane Lewis-Hughes and Josh Turnbull, who captains the side. 

Seb Davies and Rory Thornton combine in the second-row, while Carré goes straight into the starting line-up, packing down alongside Liam Belcher and Dmitri Arhip.

Lloyd Williams also starts and partners Jason Tovey at half-back while Grady starts alongside the vastly experienced Rey Lee-Lo. There is plenty of know how talent in the back three with Owen Lane, Aled Summerhill and Matthew Morgan combining.

Young added: “It’s great to see Ellis back and building on last week, which must have been a big game for him to come through mentally. 

“He did a great job, got better as the game went on, more confident as the game went on and walked off with a smile on his face, which was the important thing.

“It’s also fantastic to see Mason making his first start. He showed some real quality last week and has a lot of potential.”

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan, Owen Lane, Mason Grady, Rey Lee-Lo, Aled Summerhill; Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Turnbull (capt).

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Ben Murphy, Gwilym Bradley, Jamie Hill, Ben Thomas, Harri Millard.