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Williams to lead Cardiff Blues in European showdown

18th January 2019

Nick Williams will captain Cardiff Blues for the first time as John Mulvihill makes 11 changes for the visit of Lyon in the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday (1pm).

The Blues draw the curtain on their European campaign, aiming for a fourth consecutive victory over the French outfit, who sit fifth in the Top 14.

Following a late defeat to Glasgow Warriors in Round Five, Mulvihill has once again reshuffled his side and Williams has been handed the captaincy with an eye on the weeks ahead.

The number eight, who makes his 60th appearance for the region, has previously captained North Harbour and has become a key leader at Cardiff Arms Park.

Williams is one of six changes in the pack, with Rory Thornton and Josh Navidi the only survivors from last week’s starting side.

Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher and Dmitri Arhip form a new look front row, while Macauley Cook and Josh Turnbull come into the second-row and back-row respectively.

In the backs, Tomos Williams pulls on the scrum-half jersey and partners Jarrod Evans, who makes his first start in six weeks. That sees Gareth Anscombe switch to full-back with Aled Summerhill coming onto the wing. The only other change sees Rey Lee-Lo replace Willis Halaholo.

Lewis Jones will also make his 100th appearance for the region if he is called into action from the bench.

Mulvihill said: “Nick is a natural leader and an important figure in our squad going forward this season and particularly during this period. His energy, experience and calmness under pressure is a huge asset for us.

“It is also a great occasion for Lewis Jones. He is a great team man who deserves to celebrate this personal milestone in front of his friends and family at the Arms Park.”

While Cardiff Blues’ are already out of the running for the knockout stages of the competition, the game takes vital importance in terms of taking momentum back into the Guinness PRO14.

Mulvihill is desperate to ensure Wales’ Capital Region remain in the top tier of Europe next season and they are in a battle to qualify with some key fixtures against play-off rivals Connacht and the Ospreys ahead.

Mulvihill added: “Lyon are a quality Top 14 team with a star-stuffed squad, who are challenging for a top finish to their season. 

“It’s a huge game for us and the significance of a good performance and result will set us up nicely with some massive games coming up.”

Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Owen Lane, Harri Millard, Rey Lee-Lo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Macauley Cook, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams (capt).

Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Scott Andrews, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Olly Robinson, Lewis Jones, Garyn Smith, Matthew Morgan.