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Young ready to unleash stars in URC kick-off

First Team News | 15th September 2022

Dai Young will unleash his new signings and international stars against Munster in the BTK United Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.

Cardiff host the Irish outfit at the Arms Park (3.05pm) in what promises to be a star-studded occasion. 

The director of rugby highlighted the “fantastic 23” at his disposal and is hoping for a bumper crowd.

It will be the first opportunity he has had to field new signings Lopeti Timani, Thomas Young, Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams and the quartet are all in line for their Arms Park debut.

Young said: “There's no reason why we can't see a fantastic 23 going out on the weekend. We haven't got too many injuries.

“It's only Navs [Josh Navidi] that we’re missing really. It's been well documented that he's not available for selection.

“We will certainly see our new signings out on the pitch at some point on Saturday.

“They've been fantastic in training. You can obviously see the obvious quality in them in-and-around training but as well as that they've played in other environments and played at the top level in other environments.

“We would like to think they're going to bring a little bit of something different off the field as well and help that leadership team grow as well.

“We've been really pleased with what the new recruits have shown us so far and it would be great for them to really show what they can do in a Cardiff jersey come Saturday.”


Munster have won the last six encounters against Cardiff, including two at the Arms Park. The Blue and Blacks last victory, the 37-13 victory at the Arms Park in September 2018.

But Young has been pleased with the progress made during pre-season and believes they can boot the disappointment of the 2021-22 campaign into touch.

He expects a full-blooded encounter and he is comfortable with the team’s preparations despite last weekend’s final pre-season friendly against Zebre Parma being cancelled following the passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

He continued: “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into pre season, trying new things, new combinations, but it's always the telling time when you play the first game. And you’re not going to get a better fixture to get excited about than Munster at home.

“Since I've been here we've pushed them close a couple of times and not actually got on the right side of the result. So it would be fantastic really.

“I expect us to be hugely competitive against them and we're at home and I'm confident we can get the result, as long as we play something like we can play.

“I'm confident that we'll hit the ground running. Obviously in an ideal world we would have had a game last week against Zebra but we understand why that didn't take place and we're fully supportive of that. 

“We had a little bit of an opposed session because they'd been training at the Arms Park all week - using our weights in the tunnel, in the Matrix Shed and been out on the pitch.

“It just made a bit of sense. Although it was two separate training sessions, we did join up and had a few scrums against each other, a few line-outs and a couple of options really. 

“It was nowhere near a game or nothing that would even look like a game really but I'd like to think we got a bit out of it.

“It's always a little bit different, the first game, because every team will be trying to change something they've done.

“Where Munster have caught us in the last couple of seasons, is I think we've matched them right across the field until they went to Plan B. Plan B is when they become very tight and set piece orientated.

“They pretty much ground us down in that area. So I think we're expecting them to play a little bit more of an expansive game to start off with but if things are not going to plan for them they'll always revert back to the set piece and a kick pressure game.

“What we can expect this season and what we're hoping for, time will tell on that. But what we want is the consistency of performances which we shown against Leinster and Glasgow.

“That's the type of performances we need on a consistent basis. What we don't want to see is some of the poorer performances obviously.

"We had some real highs and we had some real low lows [in 21/22] so we've worked hard this pre season. We know we have to be better at set piece, we know that there's no disguising that.

“We've worked hard on that and we know we have to be a bit more penetrative with the ball, we can't play too laterally and we've worked on that. We know we have to be better in defence so to be quite honest I wasn't happy with any areas last season and that's not just myself - it's myself, the coaching team and the players.

“We know that we didn't perform anything like we wanted to last season. We haven't forgot that but as far as we're concerned we got a bit of a clean slate now and it's how we start.” 

The visit of His Majesty King Charles III to Cardiff on Friday, has seen the fixture, which was originally scheduled for that evening, moved to Saturday evening. 

That change in schedule has also resulted in a rare Arms Park double header, with the Rags opening the day when they host Merthyr (KO 11.45am) before the first team take on the visitors from Ireland later in the day.

Young believes an opportunity to enjoy both of the capital club’s sides should produce a memorable afternoon at the Arms Park, with the stars of today and tomorrow on show.

The former prop explained: “I'd like to think it [the delay to the match] hasn't had an effect on the squad. At the end of the day it's a 15 hour delay. That's all it is really.

“We'll back our prep. We haven't changed any of the preparations this week, and we'll go into the game fully prepared, with no excuses.

“Everyone has seen that it was a new venture last season with Cardiff RFC being our second team, for want of the better word, and a real pathway for our junior players to come through from the academy to play men's rugby.

“To play well in that environment with good seasoned semi pros will only add to their development and hopefully come to the next step, which is stepping into the Cardiff Rugby first team. 

“We've seen that the likes of Theo Cabango, Jacob Beetham and Mason Grady have obviously done it and the pathway is really working. 

“They had a fantastic season last season, winning the cup, and they're hoping for a similar season again.

“It will be good for me to see them play as well because we don't get much time to see each other play because of the schedule. I'm looking forward to that.

“The double-header will be a great occasion for all the Cardiff supporters to come down, support Cardiff RFC first and watch the first team after that.”

Tickets For Cardiff v Munster are available now by calling 029 20 302030 or clicking here.