Blues name side for RaboDirect opener

Guinness PRO12 Editor

31 Aug 2012


Cardiff Blues kick off their RaboDirect campaign against Connacht in Galway this Saturday


Saturday 1 September 5pm at Sportsground

Something has to give in the west of Ireland as both Connacht and Cardiff Blues have begun with an opening weekend victory for the past two seasons.

The Blues have a good record against the Irish province, having only lost once to them since 2005: 18-16 at the Galway Sportsground on 18 September 2009.

Connacht, however, achieved their highest tournament finishing position last season (8th), and won three of their last four games and have lost only one of their last six matches at the Sportsground: 16-20 to Munster in March.

Speaking ahead of the match Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby, Phil Davies said,

“We are looking forward to the start of the season, after a pretty gruelling pre season in many ways, the players have worked very hard to be fair to them.”

“The fitness standards that are needed for regional rugby are high and the players have all worked to achieve that standard.”

“Connacht are a pretty solid team and Dan Parks is now there.”

“I’m not sure if Dan is playing as he has suffered an injury but they have a pretty-workmen-like team and I have had experience myself over there with the Scarlets.”

“So I know how tough they are there and we are expecting a tough game.”

“A lot of work has been carried out over the summer to improve all our team system and hopefully that focus will be there Saturday and then there for the next 21 games after that.”

“We have about nine players out injured now with Czekaj added to the list.”

“Rhys Patchell is out injured with a bang on the shoulder from last week against Bath.”

“He has done exceptionally well for a young man and Jason Tovey has been unwell all week.”

“Michael Paterson is out with a shoulder injury and Scott Andrews is out with a knee injury but should be back next week .”

“We are also missing Ryan Harford, Sam Hobbs and Cooper-Woodlley from the front row.”

“Dafydd Hewitt is also out injured for this week but he is back training and should be ok for next week.”

“The international players have a specific training programme so we are missing a number of them.”

“We started training with one set of boys and that is the difference with the RaboDirect PRO12 to the English Premiership, the international players come back later than the initial squad.”

“The first squad we had back on June 11 worked through a conditioning block a recover block and rugby block.”

“The internationals and some of the Under 20s are doing the same.”

“Following their conditioning block and recovery block they will be available on Monday until the Autumn internationals, so we have them for the next 8 games after this first game.”

“As of Monday we have almost a full squad to pick from which is great, it’s trying to get them all fit and fighting to play each week.”

“As much as you want every player to play each game, you have to pick your best players and the best combinations.”

“At the moment is we have four fit props out of nine.”

“We have Tom Davies who is a young player but he is also a Welsh lose head in the future, I have no doubt.”

“Then we have Andi Kyriacou and Fau Filise with him who are experienced.”

“Robin Copeland is making his debut with us but he has plenty of experience in the English Championship but James Down is with him who has experience.”

“Rory Watt-Jones is making his debut and Josh Navidi and Andries Pretorius both have experience in the RaboDirect.”

“In the back Ceri Sweeney, Tom James and Gavin Evans are experienced and Dan Fish has been around for a few years now and this is a great opportunity for him to stand up and perform and do well for us. “

“I am confident we can go out and play well on Saturday and gain a result which is the most important thing.”

15. Dan Fish 14. Harry Robinson 13.Gavin Evans 12. Gareth Davies 11. Tom James 10. Ceri Sweeney 9. Lewis Jones

8. Andries Pretorius (c) 7. Josh Navidi 6. Rory Watts- Jones 5. James Down 4. Robin Copeland 3. Taufa’ao Filise 2. Andi Kyriacou 1. Thomas Davies

16. Rhys Williams 17. Beniot Borrust 18. Nathan Trevett 19. Lou Reed 20. Luke Hamilton 21. Lloyd Williams 22. Cory Allen 23. Tom Williams 24. Owen Williams