Eight changes as Mulvihill makes do for Cardiff Blues trip to Italy

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John Mulvihill has made eight changes to his Cardiff Blues starting XV as the side takes on a somewhat thrown together feel for Saturday’s trip to play Benetton.

With Wales taking on the Barbarians at roughly the same time, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Josh Adams and Owen Lane were all unavailable for selection having been named in Wayne Pivac’s first matchday 23.

Add in injuries to Corey Domachowski (ankle), Kris Dacey (foot), Dmitri Arhip (bicep), Rory Thornton (shoulder), Ben Murphy (unknown), Olly Robinson (shoulder), Nick Williams (hamstring), Josh Navidi (hamstring) and Willis Halaholo (knee), as well as long term absentees Ellis Jenkins and Rhun Williams, and the scale of the unavailable list becomes clear.

As a result Mulvihill has called on what depth he can get his hands on in some areas, with Brad Thyer starting and being backed up by Rhys Gill off the bench as the only fit looseheads in the squad, while Macauley Cook and James Ratti start at lock, the former making his first Guinness Pro14 start of the season and the latter making his full Cardiff Blues debut.

In the back row James Botham will start his first Pro14 game, having appeared as a substitute three times last season, while Jason Tovey makes his second full debut for the club at fly-half, and Hallam Amos makes his first Pro14 start for Cardiff Blues.

James Botham

Tactically there is a switch at hooker, where Kirby Myhill starts and Liam Belcher is on the bench, while Josh Turnbull drops to blindside flanker and Shane Lewis-Hughes is on the bench, with Will Boyde switching round to number eight.

Garyn Smith gets the nod to partner Rey Lee-Lo in the centre, while Amos moving to the wing allows Matthew Morgan to start at full-back.

Scott Andrews, Aled Summerhill, Lloyd Williams and the aforementioned Lee-Lo are the only players to start in the same number jerseys as they wore against Leicester Tigers last week.

Completing the bench are Keiron Assiratti, Alun Lawrence, Lewis Jones, Ben Thomas and Jason Harries.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan, Aled Summerhill, Rey Lee-Lo, Garyn Smith, Hallam Amos, Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams (c); 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

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