On Sunday, the Blues will look to set the tone with a win against this year’s newcomers, Zebre, when they fly to Italy in the RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues have never faced this Italian side, however, the Blues have won all 14 previous matches they have played against Italian opponents in all competitions.
Despite losing the last four PRO12 matches, the Blues will be looking to re-group and turn their performance record around on foreign soil.
There are a number of changes to the starting XV with a complete re- structuring of the front row. Trevett, Williams and Filise start with Hobbs and Breeze returning to the bench for this Italian encounter. Benoit Bourrust also returns, having recovered from a calf injury as the final front row replacement.
Rory Watts-Jones makes the starting XV at six, partnering Captain Josh Navidi, who is playing at open side flanker with Copeland at Number 8.
The backs see the return of Dafydd Hewitt at inside centre with Gavin Evans moving to thirteen and Owen Williams to the wing. Ceri Sweeny returns to the starting XV at ten, bringing experience to a youthful team. Rhys Patchell resumes his position on the replacements bench alongside Michael Patterson who has recently returned after a long term absence due to two shoulder operations.
Speaking about the impending encounter, Phil Davies describes the new Italian side as a ‘tough nut to crack’.
“They’re a clever team, a typical Italian team in some ways. They have a strong set piece and a very clever re-start game. They keep the ball well and they have a clever kicker who orchestrates the game superbly.”
Looking at the Blues overall performance over the past few weeks, Phil Davies is looking to this young team to put what they have learnt into practice.
“All the learning we have been doing over the past few weeks needs to be shining through on Sunday in respect to us being a bit more accurate, taking the opportunities and closing the game.
“It’s about approaching each match with a clear head and pushing forward.”
Cardiff Blues 15. Dan Fish 14. Owen Williams 13. Gavin Evans 12. Dafydd Hewitt 11.Tom James 10. Ceri Sweeney 9. Lloyd Williams
8. Robin Copeland 7. Josh Navidi (c) 6. Rory Watts-Jones 5. James Down 4. Macauley Cook 3 Taufa’ao Filise 2 Rhys Williams 1. Nathan Trevett
16. Marc Breeze17 Sam Hobbs 18 Benoit Bourrust 19 Michael Paterson 20 Andries Pretorius 21 Lewis Jones 22. Rhys Patchell 23. Tom Williams