Cardiff Blues will likely be without six back rowers for Sunday’s trip to reigning Guinness Pro14 champions and currently undefeated Leinster.
Despite the strength in depth that is possessed in this area of John Mulvihill’s squad, it will leave the head coach scraping a side together for the game at the Royal Dublin Showground as he looks to back up Monday night’s win over Benetton.
Shane Lewis-Hughes, Josh Navidi and now James Botham have all earned call-ups to the Wales squad, with Wayne Pivac not releasing any players from his setup back to the Welsh professional sides after the first game of this Autumn international window.
Although Ellis Jenkins is getting close to a return to action after two years out of the game, he will not start full training until the end of November with a view to playing again in December, while Olly Robinson and Will Boyde will also miss out due to injury.
Boyde fractured his eye socket in the loss to Edinburgh last week, potentially keeping him out until the new year if surgery is required, while Robinson left the field against Edinburgh with his left arm in a makeshift sling.
As things stand Josh Turnbull, Alun Lawrence and Sam Moore are the only available back rowers in the senior squad. None of those three are natural opensides, with Lawrence having never started a game in the Pro14 and Moore having only started two games in the last 18 months due to injury.
Mulvihill hinted after Monday’s game that he may well turn to the Academy squad this week with Ioan Rhys Davies and Gwilym Bradley having played for Wales U20 last season, while Alex Mann started for Cardiff Blues A against Dragons A recently. James Ratti is also capable of covering the blindside from the second row.