Front row forwards required if Cardiff are to fulfil Toulouse fixture

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Cardiff will need to register at least one additional front row forward if they are to have a full 23-man matchday squad to select for the Heineken Champions Cup opener against Toulouse.

Despite 32 players being unavailable as they quarantine in either South Africa or England after the travel debacle over the last week, Dai Young confirmed on Wednesday that he “will do everything in his power to field a team” with Gruff Rees set to lead a coaching team of T Rhys Thomas and Richie Rees.

The side will be a mix of the remaining Wales internationals and first team squad members that did not travel to South Africa, as well as Academy members, with Cardiff registering 66 players according to the EPCR website for the Heineken Cup pool stages.

However, as things stand there is a shortage of front row options available at the Arms Park, with Rhys Carre, Corey Domachowski, Brad Thyer, Theo Bevacqua, Kirby Myhill, Liam Belcher, Kris Dacey, Dmitri Arhip, Scott Andrews and Keiron Assiratti all in the quarantining party.

Further to that, Rhys Gill has definitely been ruled out of the Toulouse clash with concussion, while Dillon Lewis is a doubt after returning from the autumn internationals with a foot problem, and Efan Daniel is sidelined by a broken finger.

As a result Rhys Barratt is the only recognised loosehead option, Iestyn Harris is the only recognised hooker option, and Will Davies-King and Nathan Evans are the only definitely fit tighthead options, although Evans has filled in once at loosehead for the Rags this season.

At a minimum then the Blue and Blacks would need to register a hooker in order to fulfil the matchday 23, but with Barratt having only played a handful of games for Cardiff Met and once for the Rags, and Evans having only played twice for the Rags, then additional experience at prop would also be very welcome to aid competitiveness and allay player safety concerns.

They may also look to bring in some additional cover, with usually a full replacement front row joining the matchday 23 in case of injury during the warm-up, while there may need to be cover if there were any injuries against Toulouse with the game against Harlequins taking place just six days later.

The Heineken Champions Cup rules state that Cardiff can register up to five additional players but that they must hold three-month contracts with the club. It is unknown whether a semi-professional contracted player from the Rags squad would be eligible under that, although any players called upon into the first team would also create safety concerns, while they would also need time off from their day job.

Adding loan players is an option but would require the cooperation of the parent club as a three-month loan deal would be needed but then likely cut short by the Blue and Blacks when the quarantined squad return after three weeks, while any Heineken Cup clubs loaning players to us would also then see that player cup-tied.

So while Cardiff no doubt will aim to take the field against Toulouse a week on Saturday, there are still hurdles to overcome first.

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