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Ratti hits 50 as Cardiff travel to Brive

First Team News | 20th January 2023

James Ratti will make his 50th Cardiff appearance as the Blue and Blacks bring the European Challenge Cup pool stage to a close with a trip to Brive on Saturday (KO 3.15pm GMT).

Dai Young’s side have already booked a home draw for the Round of 16 but will be targeting top spot in Pool A to secure top seed status.

Scrum half Tomos Williams will lead the side out at Stade de Brive, captaining his home club for the first time in his career.

The Wales international, who made his first team debut against Munster in 2013, returns to the side after missing last week’s win over Newcastle.

He is paired with Rhys Priestland at half back, while homegrown duo Ben Thomas and Mason Grady are retained in midfield.

Liam Williams - one of eight Cardiff players included in Wales’ squad for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations - returns from a head injury to take his place at full back.

Jason Harries is passed fit to line-up on the wing but Owen Lane, who crossed for a brace last week, is ruled out and replaced by Aled Summerhill - making his first appearance since early December.

Ratti wears number eight on his 50th appearance, as international duo Ellis Jenkins and James Botham occupy the flanks, with the latter making his first start since recovering from injury.

With Corey Domachowski sidelined, Rhys Carré is the only change made in the front row, while Lopeti Timani comes into the second row to partner new Wales call-up Teddy Williams.

Cardiff director of rugby, Dai Young said: “While we go into the game at the top of our pool, we cannot afford to take anything for granted and are expecting a really tough encounter in Brive.

“They have enjoyed some good form recently in the Top 14, with wins over Toulon, Clermont and Lyon, and like all French teams, they will be very strong at home.

“But we have selected a strong team and want to secure a win and the highest possible finish to give ourselves the best possible chance of progressing in the competition with home fixtures.

“To have a last 16 encounter at Cardiff Arms Park already secured is brilliant but it would be even better to know we have further home games if we progress in the competition.

“Tomos captains the club for the first time and that is testament to the influence he has within the group. He has been excellent on and off the pitch this season.”

A six-two split on the bench includes experienced internationals such as Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams and Seb Davies alongside up-and-coming talents Will Davies-King and Efan Daniel.

Shane Lewis-Hughes returns to the matchday 23 for the first time since the clash against Bulls on December 3.

Lloyd Williams will move within one of equalling Taufa’ao Filise’s appearance record in the regional era.

Cardiff: Liam Williams; Aled Summerhill, Mason Grady, Ben Thomas, Jason Harries; Rhys Priestland, Tomos Williams (capt.); Rhys Carré, Kirby Myhill, Keiron Assiratti, Lopeti Timani, Teddy Williams, James Botham, Ellis Jenkins, James Ratti

Replacements: Efan Daniel, Brad Thyer, Will Davies-King, Rory Thornton, Seb Davies, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Lloyd Williams, Jarrod Evans.

Unavailable for selection: Josh Navidi, Willis Halaholo, Jacob Beetham, Gwilym Bradley, Jamie Hill, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango, Dillon Lewis, Rey Lee-Lo, Thomas Young, Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, Owen Lane