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Young challenges Cardiff to bounce back against Harlequins

First Team News | 13th January 2022

Dai Young has urged his side to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Edinburgh as they prepare to welcome Harlequins to Cardiff Arms Park for a crucial Heineken Champions Cup clash on Friday (KO 8.00pm).

Following a series of disruptions in recent weeks, the Blue and Blacks made a long-awaited return to action last week in the Scottish capital but left empty handed.

The former Wales international believes Friday’s clash against the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions will be a good measuring stick for Cardiff to see where they stand in comparison to some of Europe’s leading sides.

“Coming into the competition, we qualified pretty much in last position and were always going to get the big boys,” explained the director of rugby.

“We’re playing against the French champions and the English champions and we were always up against it.

“But we always felt we could give a good account of ourselves and unfortunately we haven’t had that chance as a team.

“So these games will give us a good chance to show how good we are or how far away from it we are.

“I’m really looking forward to it and from personal experience I know how good Quins are. 

“I’m hoping we’ll be far better from having a game last week, because we weren’t good enough. We can’t hide that although Edinburgh were very good I felt.

“Having a game under our belt, I’m sure we’ll be better this week and I’m really eager to see what we can do.

“If we could get a home win, that would be fantastic. 

“They’ve started well, they’re the form team and they’ll want to nail it on Friday.

“But for us we’re confident that, if we can play to our potential, then we can push them all the way.

“Certainly if you saw us last week, we were well off our potential and well off where we were prior to going to South Africa.”

The current Welsh Government guidelines means Friday’s encounter will be played behind closed doors at Cardiff Arms Park. 

Young is disappointed that we won’t be treated to another electric Arms Park atmosphere for a crucial European encounter, but wants the Blue and Blacks to go a step further, after going toe-to-toe with Harlequins and Toulouse in a memorable December double header.

“Everyone gives them credit for putting up the fight they did and playing as well as they did, and rightly so.

“But ultimately it was a loss so we’re going into this game with the attitude that we want to win it.

“Unfortunately there’s no crowds here, because it would’ve been a fantastic atmosphere. But we’re still at our own ground.

“We’re very respectful of Quins as a team and they’ll come down here full bow. They’ll have their best team out on the park so it will give us a real indication of where we are.

“You can’t hide the fact that it’s not great to be playing in empty stadiums, but it’s better than not playing at all.

“That’s only margins, and we’ve not had too many games where we’ve had crowds since I’ve been back.

“They can’t come quick enough but we do understand that people need to stay healthy and safe.

“But when it comes to playing a game, there’s no substitute to playing in front of your supporters.”

Cardiff welcome another new face into the squad for Friday’s encounter, as Torin Myhill of Carmarthen Quins is named on the bench to cover the hooker position, with Kristian Dacey, Liam Belcher, Iestyn Harris and Efan Daniel all sidelined.

With Myhill’s brother, Kirby, passed fit to start in the number two jersey, Young admits it’s been another challenge to find a suitable deputy but is grateful for the support from both player and club.

“He doesn’t even look like a new face, to be quite honest, because he just looks like his brother,” joked the director of rugby.

“A couple of weeks ago we were probably sitting here thinking we’ve got too many hookers, with five or six here within the squad.

“But unfortunately they’ve fallen by the wayside one-by-one. Kirby came off early last week and there was a bit of a sweat on him in the early parts of the week.

“But thankfully he’s come through and we’ve got his brother on board as well. 

“Some of the hooker who played in this competition in the first couple of rounds were unavailable so we’ve had a bit of a chase around and this competition seems to make it difficult for us to put everybody out on the field.

“We forever like looking at some local players who can come in and boost our team.”