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Navidi returns as one of nine changes for Saracens

14th December 2018

Josh Navidi makes a long-awaited return from injury as Cardiff Blues welcome English champions, Saracens, to the Welsh capital for a mouth-watering Heineken Champions Cup clash on Saturday. (KO 1.00pm)

The Welsh international back row has been out of action since the away victory over Lyon in October, and is one of nine changes made from last week’s 51-25 defeat at Allianz Park.

Navidi forms a physical back row alongside Nick Williams, who missed the trip to London due to personal reasons, and USA star, Samu Manoa.

International duo, Seb Davies and Josh Turnbull, retain their starting spots to combine in the boiler room, while Kristian Dacey and Scott Andrews bolster the front row, joining ex-Saracens star, Rhys Gill.

The formidable partnership of Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo are reunited in midfield, while fan favourite Dan Fish features for the first time in Europe this season at full back.

With scrum halves Tomos Williams and Lloyd Williams ruled out of Saturday’s match, Lewis Jones is given the nod at number nine, with Garyn Smith stepping up from the bench to take his place on the wing.

Head coach John Mulvihill said: "It was an excellent first 40 minutes last week. Saracens came out of the blocks and are a class outfit and scored first but we did really well to claw our way back into the game and 18-13 at half-time, we were in the game.

"We had a few significant injuries towards the end of the half and by the end we were running on empty. But we need to learn from what we did well in the first-half and what let us down in the second-half and put in a complete 80-minute performance.

"It's a massive game as far as the Heineken Champions Cup is concerned but it's also a massive game for us going forward, because we've got three derbies coming up and we don't want to limp into those. We want to bounce in and have some confidence going forward.

"Looking at this run of games, we probably targeted this one as a home game because we knew Cardiff Arms Park would be a sell-out.

"We definitely have the belief, especially at home, that we can turn any team over. We need the crowd to be out in force, and that's something they're really good at.” 

Dane Blacker is set for his first appearance of the campaign, after returning from his duties with Wales Sevens.

The likes of Olly Robinson, Dillon Lewis and Matthew Morgan, who scored a sensational individual effort at Allianz Park last week, will look to add firepower from the bench.

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Garyn Smith; Gareth Anscombe, Lewis Jones; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull (capt), Samu Manoa, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Olly Robinson, Dane Blacker, Steven Shingler, Matthew Morgan