Preview: Stade Francais v Cardiff Blues

Date published: May 18 2017

Challenge Cup winners Stade Français have made eight changes for their Champions Cup play-off semi-final against Cardiff Blues.

Jérémy Sinzelle starts at full-back with Meyer Bosman at inside centre partnering Jonathan Danty. Other changes in the backs see Sekou Macalou start on the left wing, while there is a new half-back pairing in Julien Dupuy and Morné Steyn.

Matthieu Ugena comes into the back row with Willem Alberts starting as well at lock. Finally in the front row, Paul Alo Emile starts at tighthead prop.

Meanwhile, Ellis Jenkins will captain Cardiff Blues. Head coach Danny Wilson has made three changes to the starting line-up that triumphed over Newport Gwent Dragons in the final round of the PRO12.

Rhys Gill, Josh Navidi and Tom James all return to full fitness and come in for Corey Domachowski, Sion Bennett and Rhun Williams, who remain in the matchday squad.

Alex Cuthbert retains his place on the wing and is in line to make his 100th appearance for Cardiff Blues. The Blues go into the encounter on the back of three consecutive wins but face a Stade Francais side buoyed by their Challenge Cup.

Wilson is well aware of the challenge the Blues face against the Challenge Cup champions but he insists they can take confidence into the Stade Jean Bouin clash.

He said: “It’s been a long season but we finished seventh to qualify for a play-off, it’s a one-off game against Stade in Paris.

“It an opportunity to play against some of the big stars in European rugby, it’s a great occasion that all the boys are looking forward to.

“They were pretty dominant against Gloucester in most aspects of the game, they played some good rugby but that’s complimented by an outstanding scrum, which is probably one of the best in Europe.

“But our form recently is good, coming off three wins and a draw in our last four. We have some form and performances, which give us confidence going into this game. If we can get pace and tempo into the game then we can cause them problems.”

If successful, Wales Capital Region will be on the road again in the final, against the winner of Northampton Saints v Connacht on Friday, May 26.

The teams:

Stade Français: 15 Jérémy Sinzelle, 14 Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, 13 Jonathan Danty, 12 Herman Meyer Bosman, 11 Sekou Macalou, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Matthieu Ugena, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Paul Alo Emile, 2 Rémi Bonfils, 1 Heinke Van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Laurent Panis, 17 Rabah Slimani, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Mathieu De Giovanni, 20 Raphaël Lakafia, 21 Clément Daguin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Jonathan Ross

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Rhun Williams

Date: Friday, May 19
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin
Kick-off: 18:00 local (17:00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace (England), Paul Burton (England)
TMO: David Rose (England)