Cardiff Blues vs Harlequins LV Cup preview

Harlequins go into their final Anglo Welsh LV=Cup group match away to Cardiff Blues with a dozen players away with the England Senior, Saxons and U20’s squads while Cardiff have named a squad filled with internationals.

With many others either rested or injured, Harlequins’ selection continues to look to the future, but still with a strong line up.

Ross Chisholm continues at full back alongside Seb Stegmann and Sam Smith who replaces Tom Williams. George Lowe makes a welcome return from the injury he sustained back in November, partnering Tom Casson. Karl Dickson returns at scrum half from his long term injury, with Rory Clegg at fly half.

Nic Mayhew starts in the front row at loose head with Rob Buchanan and Tim Fairbrother completing the front three. Tomas Vallejos starts in the second row alongside Pete Browne as Charlie Matthews starts from the bench. Chris York comes into the starting line up, replacing Luke Wallace as Tom Guest and skipper, Will Skinner complete the back row.

Darryl Marfo, Will Collier and Mark Lambert provide specialist cover in the front row with Charlie Matthews and Joe Trayfoot looking to impact in the back five. Richard Bolt provides cover at scrum half with Benjamin Urdapilleta and Ollie Lindsay Hague covering the backline.

Cardiff Blues have named a squad containing 11 internationals including Ben Blair, Gavin Evans, Tom James, Ceri Sweeney and Richie Rees in the backs.

In the forwardsJustin Burnell and Gareth Baber have named Maama Molitika, Scott Andrews, T Rhys Thomas and John Yapp who all have international experience, while New Zealand internationals Casey Laulala and Xavier Rush are on the bench.

Speaking ahead of the match Burnell said, “We had to rest some of the senior players last weekend as they have played a massive part of our season so far, and helped us reach the Heineken Cup quarter finals.”

“There’s a system for us to integrate younger players with the more experienced players and that’s why we’ve picked this side.”

“We are preparing for some big PRO12 matches in February and we’re trying to identify which players are closing the gap and moving forward.”

“I think this competition is also important for our young Welsh talent.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t set up to be a development competition and maybe there is a different view between the Welsh and English teams, as obviously it’s a route into the Heineken Cup for the English clubs.”

“Obviously it was a disappointing result for us last week against Gloucester, however, we have to see the bigger picture, in that we are in the process of trying to develop a squad.”

“We have one band of players that play international rugby and Heineken Cup rugby and another band of players that play Heineken Cup rugby and RaboDirect rugby.”

“We currently don’t have a group of players that play RaboDirect Pro12 and LV= Cup rugby.”

“We are in the process of identifying that next level, but within that selection and identification process there is going to be a tough time and difficult period before we come out the other end.”

Match : Cardiff Blues vs Harlequins
Date: Sunday 5th of February 2012
Venue : Cardiff City Stadium
Kick Off : 13:00

Harlequins :15. Ross Chisholm , 14. Seb Stegmann , 13.George Lowe , 12. Tom Casson , 11. Sam Smith , 10. Rory Clegg , 9. Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest , 7 Will Skinner (C) , 6 Chris York , 5 Pete Browne, 4 Tomas Vallejos , 3 Tim Fairbrother , 2 Rob Buchanan ,1 Nic Mayhew

Replacements : 16 Darryl Marfo , 17 Mark Lamber , 18 Will Collier , 19 Charlie Matthews , 20 Joe Trayfoot , 21 Richard Bolt , 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta , 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague

Cardiff Blues 15 Ben Blair 14 Richard Mustoe 13 Gavin Evans 12 Dafydd Hewitt 11 Tom James 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Richie Rees

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