Cardiff Blues European squad confirmed

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Cardiff Blues have named their initial 41-man squad for this season’s Heineken Champions Cup with a number of familiar faces not making the cut.

It is the first squad John Mulvihill has had to name for European competition, having had three months to assess the players at his disposal, but he will be able to make three changes during the pool stage either due to injury or form if necessary.

New signings Dmitri Arhip, Rory Thornton, Samu Manoa and Jason Harries are all in. Due to Manoa’s Tongan passport there are no issues with non-European player availability, with each team allowed two and Cardiff Blues already having Blaine Scully and Nick Williams on the books.

There are also spots for veteran front-rowers Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees, despite both players being injured currently, but Jack Roberts and Rhun Williams are not included with both having been out of action for lengthy periods.

Matthew Rees Munster
Matthew Rees has been out with a knee injury

Rhys Carre, who made his Guinness Pro14 debut last month, Ethan Lewis and Kieron Assiratti are included as inexperienced front row cover, but there is no room for Anton Peikrishvili as supporters begin to question what has happened to the Georgian tighthead prop.

Another absentee is James Down, as the 31-year-old lock is left out of the squad despite his experience of 128 Cardiff Blues appearances and having played in five of the six pool games last season.

Down has spent all of this campaign so far with Cardiff Blues A where he has played alongside Sion Bennett who is also excluded from the European squad, but young utility forward Shane Lewis-Hughes does get a nod into the 41-man list.

In the backs Mulvihill has opted for experience in back-up roles, as Lewis Jones is included over Dane Blacker at scrum-half, while Ben Jones is left out for Steve Shingler to cover Gareth Anscombe and Jarrod Evans at fly-half.

Gareth Anscombe Pau
Gareth Anscombe will lead the backline in the Heineken Cup

Harri Millard is picked to cover the midfield after appearing in the matchday squad against Benetton in September, but there is no place for Dan Fish despite some impressive performances in the Celtic Cup this season.

Tom Williams, Aled Summerhill and Tom James are the back three players chosen to join Owen Lane, Jason Harries, Blaine Scully and Matthew Morgan in that department.

Cardiff Blues European squad

Forwards: Gethin Jenkins, Rhys Gill, Brad Thyer, Corey Domachowski, Rhys Carre, Matthew Rees, Kris Dacey, Kirby Myhill, Ethan Lewis, Dmitri Arhip, Scott Andrews, Dillon Lewis, Kieron Assiratti, George Earle, Rory Thornton, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Macauley Cook, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins, Nick Williams, Samu Manoa.

Backs: Lloyd Williams, Lewis Jones, Tomos Williams, Steve Shingler, Gareth Anscombe, Jarrod Evans, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Garyn Smith, Harri Millard, Blaine Scully, Tom James, Jason Harries, Matthew Morgan, Aled Summerhill, Tom Williams, Owen Lane

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