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Liam Williams returns at full back for Ospreys derby

First Team News | 30th December 2022

Liam Williams will line-up at full back for Cardiff’s New Year’s Day derby against Ospreys at the Arms Park (KO 3pm).

The British and Irish Lion has been out of action since suffering a shoulder injury on his Blue and Blacks debut in September, but returns for the crucial derby encounter, which is expected to be played in front of a sell-out crowd.

Dai Young’s men head into the clash on the back of a dramatic Boxing Day win over Dragons RFC, and will be looking to extend their advantage over their Welsh rivals in the BKT United Rugby Championship table.

Williams is joined in the back three by fellow Lion, Josh Adams, with Owen Lane occupying the opposite wing.

Rey Lee-Lo and Ben Thomas continue their midfield partnership, but a change at outside half sees Jarrod Evans returning to the 10 jersey to link up with Tomos Williams.

With Dmitri Arhip and Dillon Lewis sidelined, Will Davies-King comes into the front row for his first league start for Cardiff. He joins Rhys Carré and Liam Belcher, while Seb Davies and Lopeti Timani combine at lock.

An unchanged back row of Taulupe Faletau, Thomas Young and captain Josh Turnbull completes the line-up.

Cardiff director of rugby, Dai Young said: “It’s great to head back to Cardiff Arms Park for what is set to be a sold out Welsh derby. These are the days you play or coach for and there has certainly been a buzz around training this week.

“We go into the game on the back of a bonus-point victory over the Dragons, in a game which was a brilliant advert for Welsh rugby, but while we were happy with the result, we know our performance must improve and that has been the focus this week.

“The Ospreys will certainly present a significant challenge. They had the better of us last season and boast one of the very best packs in Europe. We simply have to match that physicality and set-piece.

“But the boys are hugely motivated and focussed on the challenge ahead while it’s also great to welcome Liam Williams back, who along with our other senior players brings so much experience, drive and energy.

“It all makes for an exciting afternoon with two teams in good form going head-to-head in front of a capacity crowd.”

Cardiff have named a six-two split on the bench, with Teddy Williams, James Ratti and Keiron Assiratti all introduced to the matchday squad.

The Blue and Blacks face back-to-back home derbies, with Scarlets set to visit the capital next weekend.

Cardiff: Liam Williams; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher, Will Davies-King, Lopeti Timani, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Thomas Young, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Teddy Williams, Ellis Jenkins, James Ratti, Lloyd Williams, Mason Grady

Unavailable: Josh Navidi, Willis Halaholo, Jacob Beetham, Gwilym Bradley, James Botham, Jamie Hill, Max Llewellyn, Dillon Lewis, Rhys Priestland, Theo Cabango, Dmitri Arhip