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BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park has welcomed back Wales captain to the Cardiff Blues team at this evening’s European Rugby Challenge Cup clash against Rugby Calvisano.

Warburton – this week named as Wales captain for the forthcoming 6 Nations – is one of 12 changes made by Head Coach Danny Wilson for the Pool 3 encounter that his team must win with a bonus point to try and qualify for the knockout stages.

A total of seven players named by Wales this week are in the squad to face the Italians.

Speaking about the home clash Head Coach Danny Wilson said: “We are not taking this game lightly – we need five points and we are at home so we have picked a strong team to try and do just that. A few players deserve an opportunity and they get the chance to impress.

“The outcome of our qualification hopes is now out of our hands, all we can concentrate is our performance and getting the five points we need. We will react to what happens elsewhere.

“We need to build a performance because we’ve got another huge league game the week after. It’s massive that we keep winning at home,” he added. “We have a passionate fanbase that want us to win and for them, and for momentum, we need to keep doing that.

“We want this to be is a hard place for any team to come and we want to build a crowd by winning. We know what we need to achieve in this game and we are playing on a fast surface that will suit that game plan. Our intention will be to play and to play at a high tempo.”

Wing Tom James is named in the starting line-up, after recovering from illness, while centre Gavin Evans will partner Cory Allen in midfield. A new half back pairing will see Gareth Anscombe start his first game of the season for Cardiff Blues alongside scrum half Tavis Knoyle.

A completely new pack for the game will be led by captain Gethin Jenkins in the front row, who joins forces with young hooker Ethan Lewis and prop Dillon Lewis, this week named by Wales Under-20s.

New Zealand lock Jarrad Hoeata and Lou Reed will play in the second row while Warburton is into the back row alongside USA international Cam Dolan and Josh Navidi, who is at Number Eight.

Hooker Matthew Rees could make his return after being named among the replacements while Aled Summerhill is also called onto the bench.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tavis Knoyle; 1 Gethin Jenkins (c), 2 Ethan Lewis, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Lou Reed, 6 Cam Dolan, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Josh Navidi

Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Aled Summerhill


21-year-old flanker Will Boyde will make his European Rugby Champions Cup debut at the Parc on Saturday as he makes a return from a long-term injury suffered in Scarlets’ pre-season friendly against Newport Gwent Dragons in August.

Boyde has made six appearances in the famous Scarlet jersey, his only starting XV spot coming in the LV= Cup clash against London Irish in January 2015. The only other change to the pack sees Aaron Shingler returning to his favoured blindside flank.

Head Coach Pivac has made three changes to the backline that faced Racing 92 last Sunday. Steve Shingler moves from outside half to inside centre with Aled Thomas coming in at outside half. Winger Tom Williams makes a return from injury to line-up alongside DTH van der Merwe and Michael Collins in the back three.

Speaking ahead of the final pool game of the European Rugby Champions Cup campaign Pivac said: “We’re pleased to be welcoming some boys back this weekend. We’re also playing at home. There has been a huge emphasis on rectifying some of the wrongs from last week because we need a strong and improved performance to take into the Connacht game when the PRO12 gets back underway next weekend.

“Northampton are still in with a chance of qualifying. I would expect them to come here and want to perform. We’re looking for a big performance no matter what side they put out. We’ll be tidying up our defence and trying to get somewhere near parity in terms of possession and territory.

“You want the players to be hurting after results like last weekend’s so that the next opportunity they have to wear the jersey they right the wrongs.”

Scarlets team to take on Northampton Saints at Parc y Scarlets, Saturday 23rd January kick-off 5.30pm; 15 Michael Collins, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Regan King, 12 Steven Shingler, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Phil John, 2 Ken Owens ©, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Tom Price, 5 Maselino Paulino, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Will Boyde, 8 Morgan Allen

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Dylan Evans, Rhodri Jones, Lewis Rawlins, Tom Phillips, Aled Davies, Josh Lewis, Steff Hughes.

The Guinness PRO12 will return to the Parc on Friday 12th February as Scarlets take on Edinburgh Rugby, kick-off 8.15pm.


The Ospreys go into the final round of fixtures knowing that they have our fate in our own hands. Win and they will go through to the Champions Cup quarter-finals for the first time in six years.

Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, said: “We realise there aren’t many people who would have backed us to get to this point at the start of the season and we have to be pleased that we’ve done enough to get to this point. Nobody is getting carried away though.

“Exeter is a great club, they have established themselves at the top of the English game, with an outstanding record at home in particular. They haven’t lost at theirs in over a year, that’s the size of the challenge ahead of us this weekend.

“What we’ve got to do to is ensure that we are 100 per cent focused on the task, in the build-up to the game and on the day. We can’t allow ourselves to get distracted by the opponents or what’s at stake. We’ve got to be on top of our own game, be accurate, be diligent, be clinical in what we do, and we’ve got to build a performance that will allow us to get the outcome we want from the game.

“At the start of this competition we said that we had to win our home games. We’ve done that. We said that we had to go away and pick up points, and we managed to secure four on our trips to France, which have put in a good place. We’ve shown the strength of char-acter there is in the group, the culture we’ve worked hard to build in our environment.

“The belief that comes with that has been invaluable for what is a very young squad on the whole and has allowed us to overcome some pretty intense challenges so far. Now, it comes down to this final match and we’ve got to make sure that, as a group, we enjoy the experience and show what we are about as an organisation, on and off the field, with our travelling supporters doing their bit to push us on just like they did last Friday at the Liberty.”

Ospreys team to play Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Sunday 24th January 2016, KO 3.15pm, is as follows: 15 Dan Evans; 14 Hanno Dirksen; 13 Jonathan Spratt; 12 Josh Matavesi; 11 Eli Walker; 10 Dan Biggar; 9 Brendon Leonard; 1 Paul James; 2 Scott Baldwin; 3 Dmitri Arhipl; 4 Lloyd Ashley; 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Capt); 6 Sam Underhill; 7 Justin Tipuric 8 James King

Replacements: 16 Sam Parry; 17 Nicky Smith; 18 Aaron Jarvis; 19 Rory Thornton; 20 Dan Baker; 21 Tom Habberfield; 22 Sam Davies; 23 Owen Watkin

Dan Baker will make his 50th Ospreys appearance if he comes off the bench. Owen Watkin will make his European Cup debut if he comes off the bench.

Newport Gwent Dragons lost 38-5 to Sale Sharks on Thursday evening in the European Challenge Cup losing out on a home quarter-final game at Rodney Parade but still going into the knock-out stages of the European competition for the second year running – with the quarter-final to be played in April.