29/11/2019 – Guinness PRO14 Communications – Cardiff Blues make eight changes for Benetton Rugby

Cardiff Blues make eight changes as they return to Guinness PRO14 action with a trip to Italy to take on Benetton Rugby on Saturday (KO 3.00pm GMT).

Three changes are made along the backline, with Matthew Morgan returning to full back and Hallam Amos making a switch to the wing, having been released from the Wales squad to face the Barbarians on Saturday.

Following the acute knee injury to Willis Halaholo, Garyn Smith partners Rey Lee-Lo in midfield, while Jason Tovey slots in at outside half, replacing Jarrod Evans, who is also part of Wayne Pivac’s inaugural squad .

Lloyd Williams resumes captaincy duties, while this season’s top try scorer, Aled Summerhill, retains his place on the wing.

Brad Thyer and Kirby Myhill are introduced in the front row, joining Scott Andrews, but there is a new-look partnership at lock, with James Ratti and Macauley Cook combining.

James Botham, who made a try-scoring European debut against Calvisano in the Challenge Cup, will make his first Guinness PRO14 start in the number seven jersey.

Head coach, John Mulvihill said: “We know it’s going to be a tough challenge out in Treviso this week, against a fully-blown Benetton team, but there’s a big opportunity for a lot of boys to make a statement and force their way into selection decisions ahead of a crucial period of the season.

“We have a vital European double-header against Pau to come, as well as the festive derbies, and those are the games that everyone wants to be involved in. It’s an exciting period for us.

“Results haven’t quite gone our way at times this season, but each loss has come down to fine margins. That’s why our focus remains on putting in a good performance, because that will put us in the best possible position to get a win out in Italy.

“We’ve got some experienced boys in there, like Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams, Scott Andrews, Macauley Cook and Josh Turnbull, and we’ll be looking for these boys to lead from the front and drive the performance.

“It was a disappointing result for everyone involved with the region last week, but this week we’ll shift our focus back to the PRO14 and we see it as a good opportunity to bounce back against a tough Benetton side.”

Rhys Gill returns to the match-day squad and is in-line to make his 50th Championship appearance from the bench.

Shane Lewis-Hughes is released to play following his Wales call-up and is also named amongst the replacements.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Aled Summerhill, Rey Lee-Lo, Garyn Smith, Hallam Amos; Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams (capt); Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Scott Andrews, James Ratti, Macauley Cook, Josh Turnbull, James Botham, Will Boyde

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Gill, Keiron Assiratti, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Alun Lawrence, Lewis Jones, Ben Thomas, Jason Harries.