Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Worcester

07th November 2013 12:40

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Andries Pretorius

Skipper: Andries Pretorius

Miles Normandale and Simon Humberstone are in line to make their Cardiff Blues debuts when the region begins its LV=Cup season against Worcester.

Second-row Normandale, an off-season recruit, is named in the starting line-up while fly-half Humberstone, who has impressed for Pontypridd all season, is named among the replacements.

Blues make a total of six changes - all to the pack - to the side that defeated Benetton Treviso in the league, with a total of 20 players currently unavailable through international call-ups or injury.

A new-look front-row sees props and Tom Davies and Benoit Bourrust pack down alongside hooker Kristian Dacey.

Normandale and James Down form the second-row while back row call-ups for Macauley Cook and Thomas Young will see them join forces with captain Andries Pretorius.

Rhys Williams, Luke Hamilton and fit-again Gavin Evans are named among the replacements.

Ten players miss the game through international selection while Alex Cuthbert, Tom Pascoe, Ellis Jenkins, Robin Copeland, Josh Navidi, Marc Breeze, Aled Summerhill, Ben Roach and Harry Robinson all are out with injuries.

Blues have also confirmed that lock Lou Reed requires surgery to his toe, after picking up an injury against Benetton Treviso, and will have an extended period on the sidelines.

"This is the best possible team we can select for this fixture and we are excited by the line-up and want to start with a win. We are utilising our resources and squad and have to make sure they can step up to the mark," said Defence Coach Dale McIntosh.

"All these players are here for a reason, because they deserve to put the Blues jersey on. But every time they do that they have got to prove to us, and themselves, that they are capable or representing the region.

"This competition is about youngsters having an opportunity and them understanding the philosophy behind the jersey. You can train hard all week but you have got to be able to handle the pressure when you play."

Meanwhile, James Stephenson will make his competitive debut for Warriors in Friday's LV= Cup clash at the Arms Park.

The wing, who has been a regular for Cavaliers this season, is one of 12 changes from the side which hosted Bath last Friday.

Jon Clarke gets his first taste of action under Dean Ryan and is named at centre alongside Max Stelling.

Josh Drauniniu returns to the line-up after missing the last two games, while Ben Howard is given the nod at full-back.

Ignacio Mieres will start at fly-half, while scrum-half Paul Hodgson is given the captain's armband on his return to action.

Rob O'Donnell gets his first start of the season, while Jeremy Becasseau, Ed Shervington, Mike Williams and Sam Betty all return to the starting line-up.

New signing Andy Symons is named on the bench and there is also a place for academy scrum-half George de Cothi.

"The LV= Cup is an important competition because it gives youngsters a chance. The teams who have approached the competition in the right way have been able to develop the back-end of their squad," said Director of Rugby Ryan.

"The selections that tend to be made are full of youngsters looking to impress and play the game at a high tempo.

"The season is long and there are some people that haven't necessarily had the chance to demonstrate to me and to everyone else where they are. This weekend and next weekend gives them a chance.

"It's about building momentum. This club needs to focus on the total group. We need to create opportunities.

"We can't talk about youngsters and then starve them of opportunities and Friday's selection reflects this."

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Thomas Young, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 James Down, 4 Miles Normandale, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Tom Davies.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Taufa'ao Filise, 19 Luke Hamilton, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Gavin Evans.

Worcester: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 Max Stelling, 11 James Stephenson, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson (c), 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Jeremy Becasseau.
Replacements: 16 Nick Seymour, 17 George Porter, 18 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Jonathan Thomas, 21 George de Cothi, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Andy Symons.

Date: Friday, November 8
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Venue: Arms Park
Referee: Gwyn Morris (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Daniel Jones (Wales)

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