Preview: Cardiff Blues v Glasgow

Date published: September 15 2016

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson has called four Wales internationals into his starting line-up to face Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 on Friday.

Josh Turnbull and Sam Warburton come into a reshuffled pack, replacing Macauley Cook and Nick Williams who drop to the bench.

Lloyd Williams is preferred to Tomos Williams and Matthew Morgan replaces Dan Fish, who has been ruled out due to a minor ankle injury.

In total there are 14 internationals in the starting line-up for the scintillating clash at Cardiff Arms Park.

Wilson said: "If you only have 15-18 players, they play against whoever you play, but what you need, and see from the big hitters in world rugby, is a squad where you can make one or two changes depending on the opposition, the tactics and the need develop or rest players in the squad.

"We have horses for courses and pick the relevant selections which are appropriate for the opposition we are playing.

"We have selected with an approach to beat Glasgow and then secondly to make sure this squad develops because the games come thick and fast."

Glasgow are also unbeaten so far in the tournament with victories over reigning champions Connacht and Leinster.

Wilson views Gregor Townsend's men as the in-form team in the PRO12 and he hopes there will be a bumper crowd at Cardiff Arms Park.

Wilson added: "At this minute Glasgow are the best team in the Championship. They have shown that again in the start they have made.

"They are a very well coached, very well drilled side that have performed at the top end of the PRO12 for a long time. 

"They have started this Championship well so it will be a huge challenge, our toughest game yet but if we could get a win at home then what a platform to build on.

"I feel we're in a similar place, we are an in form team coming off the back of two wins and we will play them with huge confidence. 

"I would hope people come to watch because it will be quite a spectacle. We know long term it is about winning games, that's what puts bums on seats but we've won our first two and hopefully that means people will come to watch."

Meanwhile, centre Nick Grigg will make his first competitive start for Glasgow Warriors at the Cardiff Arms Park.

Grigg made his debut off the bench against Leinster last season and has been rewarded for his recent performances against Harlequins and Canada ‘A’ in pre-season, by being named in the starting XV to play Cardiff Blues.

Josh Strauss starts at number eight after returning from injury, while Ryan Wilson moves to openside flanker and Rob Harley completes the back-row at blindside.

Both Ali Price and Rory Clegg make their first starts of the season in the half-back positions, while Peter Horne shifts to inside centre to accompany Grigg who will wear 13.

Lee Jones also makes his first start of the campaign on the left wing, Stuart Hogg starts at full-back and last week’s man of the match Tommy Seymour will look to continue his try scoring form on the other flank having scored six in the opening two games. 

In the front-row, Zander Fagerson joins Gordon Reid and Fraser Brown and behind them is Tim Swinson, who has also scored in the opening two matches, accompanying captain Jonny Gray in the second-row.

Olympic Silver Medalist Mark Bennett is involved for the first time since returning from the Rugby 7s in Rio and he’ll hope to make an impression from the bench.

Greg Peterson, Grayson Hart and Rory Hughes will also play their first competitive rugby of the season if they come on and they are joined by Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi and Lewis Wynne to complete the replacements.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: "Nick Grigg has worked very hard during pre-season and played well against Harlequins and Canada ‘A’ last month. He deserves his opportunity tomorrow.

"It’s also great that we’re able to welcome Josh Strauss and Mark Bennett back into the squad. Josh has recovered from an ankle injury and Mark came back from Rio fit and hungry and it didn’t take him long to integrate himself back into the group.

"Cardiff have started the season very strongly and can score tries from anywhere. They have had excellent wins against Edinburgh and Munster and we’re going to need to improve defensively to get a positive result at the Arms Park tomorrow night."

Form: Cardiff Blues have lost just one of their last eight Guinness PRO12 encounters: to Ospreys on “Judgement Day” in April. Blues have never started a PRO12 campaign with three successive victories. Cardiff Blues have been defeated at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park just once since last November, 13-14 to Leinster in February. Glasgow Warriors have begun with a pair of maximum point victories in the Guinness PRO12 – no side has ever tallied 15 points after three rounds. The Scotsmen have not been defeated by a Welsh Region since Scarlets visited Scotstoun in round 1 last season. Warriors have won their last ten fixtures against Blues in the Guinness PRO12 since the Welshmen’s 26-15 victory at Firhill in February 2011.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Blaine Scully

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Ali Price, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ryan Wilson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (c), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Lewis Wynne, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Rory Hughes

Date: Friday, September 16
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 19:00 BST (18:00 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Simon Rees (Wales)