Danny Wilson has urged Cardiff Blues to bounce back from a derby-day Guinness PRO12 defeat to Ospreys against Severnside rivals Bristol Rugby in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, as he welcomes Alex Cuthbert back into his starting XV.
British & Irish Lions winger Cuthbert scored in Cardiff’s victory over Glasgow Warriors, but missed the 46-24 loss to Ospreys and is now raring to go against Aviva Premiership opposition in their Challenge Cup opener.
Cuthbert is one of eight changes as head coach Danny Wilson welcomes Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees and Scott Andrews to the front-row abd Wilson is hoping the Blues can start their European adventure with a win.
“It’s important that we bounce back from last weekend. Ultimately this is a very good group of players, who have shown what they are capable of and it’s certainly something we want to deal with,” Wilson explained.
“It’s a chance to get back on the horse with a good performance in Europe.
“Bristol have a very big squad so if they make some changes they will still be strong. They have spent a lot of money and have a very big pack of forwards, a big set-piece and they play some rugby as well.
“They will have a big crowd so it makes for a good occasion and it’s a game we need to bounce back in.”
The Blues face a Bristol side who have struggled in recent weeks, but Wilson is aware of the threat posed by their impressive line-up that includes double Grand Slam winner Ian Evans at lock and former Scarlet Rhodri Williams at scrum-half.
Wilson sees this quality throughout the European group and predicts a derby atmosphere for tonight’s encounter.
He said: “It’s an exciting European group.You have a fair few All Blacks in that Pau side, you have Bath who are really in form and Bristol are searching for a win and have a star-studded team searching for it.
“There’s a bit of a derby feel about some of the games, a bit of history in that Matt Sherratt and myself both worked for Andy Robinson at Bristol.
“It will be an exciting encounter at what I’m pretty certain will be a packed Ashton Gate, which is a fantastic venue.”