Champions Cup: Internationals return for Friday’s games

Date published: January 13 2022 - Planet Rugby

The Champions Cup returns this weekend and two matches take place on Friday as Cardiff face Harlequins and Munster visit Castres.

Cardiff v Harlequins

Cardiff welcome six internationals back into their starting line-up as Harlequins visit the Arms Park for Friday’s Champions Cup clash.

A number of senior stars will make their first European appearance of the season, having missed the opening two rounds of action following well-documented travel restrictions in South Africa.

After missing out on last week’s trip to Edinburgh, British and Irish Lion Josh Adams is introduced back onto the wing, joining Owen Lane and the returning Hallam Amos in an all-international back three.

Willis Halaholo and Rey Lee-Lo continue their partnership in midfield while a new-look half back duo of Jarrod Evans and Tomos Williams is welcomed back, having featured from the bench in the Scottish capital.

Hooker Kirby Myhill is passed fit to take his place in an unchanged front-row, but skipper Josh Turnbull switches to the second-row to combine with Seb Davies in the boiler room.

The side is completed as Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ellis Jenkins and James Ratti are given the nod in the back-row.

Wales prop Dillon Lewis recovers from a foot injury to take his place on the bench, with Ben Thomas in line for his first Blue and Blacks outing since October.

With Liam Belcher, Iestyn Harris, Efan Daniel and Kristian Dacey all sidelined with injuries, Carmarthen Quins hooker Torin Myhill, brother of Kirby, is drafted in to cover from the bench.

Meanwhile, the visitors have made three changes to their side as Dino Lamb, James Chisholm and Louis Lynagh return to the starting XV as Quins step back into European action having claimed two wins from two during the first rounds of the competition.

Off the back of announcing new deals with the club earlier this week, number eight Alex Dombrandt and centre Luke Northmore retain starting berths. Northmore switches from outside to inside centre this week, with Joe Marchant shifting into the midfield as Lynagh takes up the 14 jersey.

Lamb steps into the starting line-up in place of Hugh Tizard, who is named on the bench, with Chisholm returning to the back-row following injury to flanker Jack Kenningham last weekend.

Returning to the matchday 23 amongst the replacements, hooker Sam Riley, Tongan international Viliami Taulani and scrum-half Jack Stafford also return on the bench, wearing the 16, 20 and 21 jerseys respectively.

The teams:

Cardiff: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Uilisi Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Josh Turnbull (c), 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Torin Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Ben Thomas

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Luke Northmore, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (c), 7 Tom Lawday, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Viliami Taulani, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Huw Jones

Date: Friday, January 14
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant referees: Benoit Rousselet (France), Cedric Marchat (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

Castres v Munster

Munster have made five changes to their side for their Champions Cup clash with Castres Olympique at Stade Pierre-Fabre on Friday.

Captain Peter O’Mahony returns after missing the Ulster win due to a leg strain with Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Jack O’Donoghue also coming into the side.

There is a positional switch for last week’s Player of the Match Tadhg Beirne as he moves to lock.

Jack Crowley keeps his place at fly-half and starts in the Champions Cup for the first time having made his European debut off the bench against Castres at Thomond Park last month.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with Conway and Earls on either flank.

Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell continue their centre partnership with Murray and Crowley in the half-backs.

The front-row of Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer is unchanged with Fineen Wycherley and Beirne in the engine room.

O’Mahony, O’Donoghue and Gavin Coombes complete the starting XV.

Fly-half Jake Flannery is in line to make his Champions Cup debut as a replacement with Jean Kleyn also included in the squad after missing out last week due to a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Castres will be looking for revenge after coming close at Thomond Park in their previous European encounter, with former Harlequins fly-half Ben Botica directing the side from 10.

Louic Jacquet will skipper the team while there’s also starts for Antoine Tichit at loosehead prop, wing Filipo Nakosi and experienced midfield duo Pierre Aguillon and Thomas Combezou.

The teams:

Castres: 15 Thomas Larregain, 14 Antoine Zeghdar, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Filipo Nakosi, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Santiago Arata Perrone, 8 Baptiste Delaporte, 7 Simon Meka, 6 Mateaki Kafatolu, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Loic Jacquet (c), 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Brice Humbert, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Pierre Colonna, 17 Julius Nostadt, 18 Matthew Tierney, 19 Ryno Pieterse, 20 Hugo Hermet, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Louis Le Brun, 23 Bastien Guillemin

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 John Ryan, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 John Hodnett, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Shane Daly

Date: Friday, January 14
Venue: Stade Pierre Fabre
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)