Blues welcome back Blair for Calvisano
January 22, 2009
Blues fullback Ben Blair will return from injury against Calvisano © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues boss Dai Young is taking no chances as his side go in search of a home Heineken Cup quarter-final against Calvisano on Friday.
Young has made only one change to the side that recorded a famous win over Gloucester last weekend, with All Black fullback Ben Blair returning to the side after recovering from a broken bone in his hand. Leigh Halfpenny shifts on to the wing to accommodate Blair, with Gareth Thomas completing the back-three.
The powerful centre-pairing of Jamie Roberts and Tom Shanklin is given another chance to shine ahead of the Six Nations, while Nicky Robinson and Jason Spice continue at half-back. In the pack, Martyn Williams leads the side again from openside in the absence of the injured Paul Tito, with Andy Powell and Maama Molitika completing the back-row. Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams and Gary Powell will pack down in the Blues front-row.
"I'll make sure our mindset is on the job," said Blues coach Young. "Biarritz Olympique struggled to beat them [Calvisano] at the weekend and I know they would love to come and spoil the party. Our attitude is to win first and then start thinking about bonus points - there is still work to be done. For 60 minutes out there in Italy they were in the game and it took some neat moves from us to win the tie."
Calvisano travel to Wales looking for their first point of the tournament, and field a strong side. Former Wales prop Ben Evans starts alongside Italy hooker and former Wasps prop Ali McKenzie in the front-row.
Peter Sidoli also returns to Wales and starts in the second-row, while Italian internationals Luke McLean and Paul Griffen are named on the bench.
Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair, Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts, Gareth Thomas, Nicky Robinson, Jason Spice, Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams, Gary Powell, Deiniol Jones, Scott Morgan, Maama Molitika, Martyn Williams (capt), Andy Powell
Replacements: Taufa'ao Filise, T Rhys Thomas, Bradley Davies, Xavier Rush, Darren Allinson, Ceri Sweeney, Jamie Robinson
Calvisano: Calvisano: Ben Smith, Ludovico Nitoglia, Matteo Pratichetti, Garcia Gonzalo, Daniele Forcucci, Gerard John Fraser, Pino Patelli, Alessandro Zanni, Aaron Persico, Filippo Cristiano, Cameron Treloar, Peter Sidoli, Ben Evans, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Alistair McKenzie
Replacements: Gabriel Bocca, Alejandro Moreno, Luca Beccaris, Matteo Galluppi, Paul Griffen, Nanni Raineri, Luke McLean