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Jenkins makes first start as Cardiff Blues change eight for Toulouse

12th January 2018

Ellis Jenkins will make his first start of the season as Cardiff Blues make eight changes for their crunch European Challenge Cup clash with Toulouse.

The Blues go into Round Five sitting at the top of Pool Two and can take a major stride towards the knockout stages with a triumph at the Arms Park on Sunday (5.30pm).

They claimed a famous victory over the four-time former Heineken Cup champions on their own patch in October and are now targeting a double following a frustrating festive period.

Head coach Danny Wilson makes three changes in the backs with Jarrod Evans recovering from illness to start at fly-half and scrum-half Tomos Williams also returning.

With Rey Lee-Lo the latest to be struck down, Garyn Smith steps up from the bench to partner Willis Halaholo in midfield.

There is an all-new front-row with experienced trio Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Taufa’ao Filise handed starts.

George Earle comes into the second-row and following two appearances off the bench, Jenkins pulls on the number seven jersey for the first time since hamstring surgery.

Wilson said: “It’s good to have a number of players coming back from short-term injury to give us some strength and depth, and selection dilemmas in certain positions.

“Unfortunately Matthew Morgan has picked up an injury that requires further assessment and with Rey Lee-Lo suffering a little bit of illness we felt Garyn Smith deserved to start, especially given his recent form.

“We’ve picked a team with a bit of strength and experience in the front-five but with plenty of attacking talent to play the rugby required to beat a team like Toulouse.

“We're top of our group, it's a home game against Toulouse and, personally, it's one of those big ones which people come out to watch.

"A home game in Europe, at this stage, against the giants of Toulouse is a massive game, full stop but to play it in the circumstances we're in, having beaten them away from home which is one of our biggest wins in my time here, is exciting.

“We have to back it up by beating them at home. We know their squad is phenomenal and they've got some superstars in there, but we know what's at stake for us.”

Kristian Dacey, Steve Shingler and Blaine Scully have all also shaken off injuries to be included among the replacements.

The Blues are currently four points clear at the top of Pool Two. A victory on Sunday could be enough to secure qualification with the help of other results ahead of next week’s trip to Stade de Gerland to face Lyon.

Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Alex Cuthbert, Garyn Smith, Willis Halaholo, Owen Lane; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, George Earle, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, Damian Welch, Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams, Steve Shingler, Blaine Scully.