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Jenkins and Lane return to start in Ospreys friendly clash

First Team News | 11th February 2021

After more than two years on the sidelines, Ellis Jenkins will make his long awaited return from injury in Cardiff Blues’ friendly encounter against Ospreys on Friday (KO 2.30pm).

Cardiff Blues will run out at Cardiff Arms Park for the first time in a year, after the iconic ground was used to facilitate the Dragon’s Heart Hospital in the early stages of the campaign.

Club captain Jenkins has been out of action with a serious knee injury suffered in the final moments of his man-of-the-match display in Wales' November 2018 Test victory over South Africa.

It has been a long journey back for the back row, who will wear the number seven jersey on Friday, but is expected to be limited to 40 minutes of action upon his return.

There is another welcome return from injury for fellow Wales international, Owen Lane, who has been out of action with a foot injury since November.

The wing, who scored a try on his 50th Cardiff Blues appearance earlier this season, lines up in an exciting back-line, which includes six academy graduates.

A sizeable, young midfield partnership of Mason Grady and Max Llewellyn will start at the Arms Park, while there is more experience in the back three with Lane joined by Aled Summerhill and centurion Dan Fish.

Jamie Hill, who impressed when he broke into the first team earlier this season, wears the number nine jersey and links up with Jason Tovey at half back.

Hooker Kirby Myhill will lead the side against Ospreys and makes his first appearance since returning to fitness following a hamstring injury.

Cardiff Blues academy and Wales under-20 loosehead prop, Theo Bevacqua, will have his first taste of senior rugby as Keiron Assiratti completes the front row.

Ben Murphy partners Rory Thornton in the second row, while there are two further academy players named in the back row. Gwilym Bradley, who made his Cardiff Blues debut earlier this season, and Wales under-20 international Ioan Rhys Davies join Jenkins in the back row.

Director of rugby, Dai Young, said: “I’m feeeling the buzz at coming back to the Arms Park, and I’m sure the players felt the same buzz. I’m looking forward to the first game here but it’s a real shame that there are no supporters here.

“But, as a club, we can be extremely proud of playing a small part in helping the NHS during a difficult period over the last few months.

“With some of the international players being away, and you tend to know those international players, so it’s the players underneath that you’re sometimes not too familiar with when you first arrive at the club.

“It’s been a great opportunity to get to know the squad and Friday is another vehicle for me to get to know what’s underneath our internationals. I want to give everyone an opportunity to put their hands up for selection for the meaningful games.

“Everyone has been really eager to see Ellis back on the field and it’s fantastic that he’s going to have a run out on Friday.

“We all know that he knows the game inside-out and is a fantastic leader, but my intention is to take some responsibility and pressure off him by getting others to lead around him and leave Ellis Jenkins to worry about Ellis Jenkins for a bit.

“Being injured is never a nice place to be, and when you’ve been injured for as long as Ellis has, I’m sure he’s had some dark moments there which he’s had to come through.

“It would be lovely to see him coming off with a smile on his face.

“I’m sure he’s looking forward to his first carry, his first tackle, his first jackal and I’m sure he’ll bring them into the game. It’ll just be nice to see him back on the field with a smile on his face.

“We’re planning on starting him because, from past experiences with injured players, if you’ve been out for a while then being on the bench can be even more nerve-racking because you want to get there, do your warm-up and get out on the pitch.

“I think it would be irresponsible to play him any longer than 40 minutes and we’re looking to give him the first half. “

An extended bench is named for the encounter, which includes a blend of youth and experience. Jason Harries is set for his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury, while scrum half Ellis Bevan is also named among the replacements, having signed his first professional contract in December.

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Owen Lane, Mason Grady, Max Llewellyn, Aled Summerhill; Jason Tovey, Jamie Hill; Theo Bevacqua, Kirby Myhill (capt), Keiron Assiratti, Ben Murphy, Rory Thornton, Gwilym Bradley, Ellis Jenkins, Ioan Rhys Davies

Replacements: Iestyn Harris, Huw Owen, Scott Andrews, Will Davies-King, Rhys Anstey, Lewis Jones, Luke Scully, Ellis Bevan, Alex Mann, Jason Harries, Harri Millard