Preview: Racing Metro v Cardiff Blues

Date published: November 10 2011

Wales captain Sam Warburton returns to the Cardiff Blues starting XV for Friday's Heineken Cup clash against Racing Metro in Paris.

Wales captain Sam Warburton has been named in the Cardiff Blues starting XV for Friday's Heineken Cup clash against Racing Metro in Paris.

Warburton is free to play again after serving a three-week suspension for his tip-tackle on Vincent Clerc in Wales' World Cup semi-final loss to France.

Wales' other Test players Jamie Roberts, Lloyd Williams, Bradley Davis and Gethin Jenkins will also return for their first appearances after the World Cup.

However the Blues will be without Leigh Halfpenny (foot), Gavin Henson (wrist), Martyn Williams (wrist) and Deiniol Jones (shoulder).

The Blues' forwards coach Justin Burnell is excited by the return of the team's internationals.

“A lot of players have performed fantastically for us during the opening of the PRO12 so it would have been good to mix them with the World Cup players,” Burnell told the Cardiff Blues website.

“The Welsh players have come back from a very successful campaign and they showed they are some of the best players in the world.

“Physically and mentally they are ready for the Heineken Cup.”

Burnell knows it will be a difficult assignment in Paris.

“When you play a French team first up, on their own patch, it is perhaps the most difficult game of the pool,” he said.

“However, we have got the mindset that we have to perform and win the game.

“They are typically French, in so much as they have good set piece, strong scrum, one second row doesn't jump and is 120kilos and an outstanding kicking outside half.”

“It will be a massive physical battle, that's what we're planning for and working towards.”

Meanwhile, Racing Metro will be without Francois Steyn and Sebastian Chabal for the visit of the Welshmen.

The duo are both ruled out through injury, however the big-spending Parisians still have a wealth of talent to choose from.

Juan Martin Hernandez, who missed the World Cup through injury, will continue his rehabilitation at fly-half – with fellow Argentinean Juan Imhoff named on the wing.

France lock Lionel Nallet has to settle for a place on the bench following his return from the World Cup.

The teams:

Racing Metro: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Sereli Bobo, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Mathieu Loree, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero, 2 Benjamin Noirot, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 4 Karim Ghezal, 5 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 6 John Leo'o, 7 Antoine Batut, 8 Jacques Cronje.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Johannes Coetzee, 19 Lionel Nallet, 20 Nicolas Durand, 21 Jonathan Wisniewski, 22 Virimi Vakatawa, 23 Remi Vaquin.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 T Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze 17 John Yapp 18 Scott Andrews 19 Paul Tito 20 Andries Pretorius 21 Richie Rees 22 Ceri Sweeney 23 Gavin Evans.

Date: Friday, November 11
Kick-off: 20.00
Venue: Stade Yves du Manoir, Paris
Referee: George Clancy