Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster

Date published: October 31 2014

Argentina wing Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino will make his Cardiff Blues debut against Munster at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

Argentina wing Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino will make his Cardiff Blues debut against Munster at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

Amorosino will make his first appearance for the Blues as they return to league action after successive victories in Europe.

The flyer is one of seven changes to the side that defeated Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo in Italy last weekend. Gavin Evans is recalled in midfield, with Adam Thomas moving to outside centre.

A new-look front row sees hooker Matthew Rees captain the team and pack down alongside Sam Hobbs and Adam Jones. Jarrad Hoeata and Filo Paulo are reunited in the second row engine room.

Hot prospect Garyn Smith could also make his debut with the Blues Academy product named among the replacements.

Prop Taufa’ao Filise is also set to become a joint record holder for Blues. If he comes off the bench the front row giant will join T Rhys Thomas at the top of the all-time record appearance maker charts on 182 games.

Cardiff’s director of rugby Mark Hammett said: “We go into the Munster fixture on the back of two bonus point victories in Europe, but we are certainly not getting carried away with those wins.

“Playing in Europe allowed us to build confidence, momentum and work on our structures and systems.

“Our challenge is to transfer that into the PRO12 against a powerhouse side in Munster.

“Munster are a challenging side who have a strong pick and go game, run hard and direct and are strong technically.

“We’ve got to be right on the money from the start because we will be tested all over the field.”

Meanwhile, with a number of international representatives unavailable for selection, Munster boss Anthony Foley has rung the changes for to his starting line-up with veteran lock Donncha O’Callaghan named as captain.

In total, 11 personnel changes are made from last weekend’s starting line-up that defeated Saracens 14-3 in Pool One of the European Champions Cup.

In the front row John Ryan returns from illness to start at loosehead alongside hooker Kevin O’Byrne, while BJ Botha retains his starting position at tighthead.

O’Callaghan, who is Munster’s most capped player, returns to the matchday squad and will captain the side from the second row alongside Billy Holland who is promoted from the bench for this weekend’s clash.

In the back row CJ Stander switches from eight to six, and following two strong performances for Munster A in the B&I Cup in which he scored two tries, Paddy Butler starts at seven.

Robin Copeland is also promoted to a starting position as he faces his old Cardiff team-mates from the back of the scrum at eight.

In the half backs Duncan Williams and JJ Hanrahan are paired from the start for the first time this season at scrum-half and fly-half respectively, while impressive appearances in all Munster A games to date this season sees year two Academy player Rory Scannell on course to make his first senior competitive appearance, doing so alongside Andrew Smith in the midfield.

Having trained with Ireland at Carton House earlier this week, Andrew Conway remains on the right wing with Gerhard van den Heever coming in on the opposite flank, while Johne Murphy also returns to the starting line-up, completing the back three at full-back.

Following his inclusion in the Ireland squad for the upcoming November Series, Stephen Archer provides front row cover on the bench and year two Academy second row Sean McCarthy is another in line to make his competitive debut after being named amongst the replacements.

Meanwhile, prop Alan Cotter and back-row Barry O’Mahony could also feature in the Guinness PRO12 for the first time this season.

Form: Cardiff Blues have won successive matches in the European Challenge Cup, but their only victory in the PRO12 so far this campaign came in Round One at Zebre. The Blues have played three games against Irish provinces this season and have yet to win, but did at least draw 24-all in Connacht in Round Five. Munster’s only defeat in their last seven fixtures in all tournaments was 14-19 at home to Ospreys in Round Four of the PRO12. The Munstermen have a perfect played three, won three record on the road this season in all competitions, but were defeated on their most recent visit to Wales, 13-18 at the Scarlets in March. Cardiff Blues have beaten Munster only once in their last eight encounters: 17-6 at Musgrave Park in January 2013, whilst the Blues have not actually beaten Munster at Cardiff Arms Park since May 2009.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Richard Smith, 13 Adam Thomas, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Lucas Amorosino, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lewis Jones, 22Garyn Smith, 23Dan Fish

Munster: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Paddy Butler, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (c), 3 BJ Botha; 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 John Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Alan Cotter, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Sean McCarthy, 20 Barry O’Mahony, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 Johnny Holland, 23 Ronan O’Mahony

Date: Saturday, November 1
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kickoff: 17:15 local (GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)