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Fire in Blues’ bellies

Guinness PRO12 Editor

27 Oct 2010

Dai Young is expecting his Cardiff Blues players to bounce back this weekend after a disappointing loss to the Scarlets last time out.

The Blues fell to a 16-10 defeat in the Welsh derby at the Cardiff City Stadium but Young is hoping his players can turn that around when they take on Aironi this weekend.

"There will be a little bit of heat in our bellies going there this weekend," said Young.

"A loss against the Scarlets will burn in the stomach. If it was just a bad day at the office then okay, but we haven't played like we want all season.

"We struggled to get possession at the lineout and we lived off scraps and struggled to get a pattern. If you haven’t got the ball then you can’t play.

"I was disappointed with accuracy. We probably had more forward passes than we had in all of last season.

"We practised things all week like lineouts, but made ourselves look average.

"We're in a better position than last year because we've picked up wins but we are still not playing anything like we can.”

Young held no punches when giving his assessment of Saturday’s performance.

The former Wales and Lions prop rightly sticks up for his players at every opportunity but even he admitted there was little to smile about at the weekend.

"I wasn't too impressed with anyone last week," added Young, who has been in charge of the Blues since the region’s inception in 2003.

"There were quite a few bruised egos in the changing room after the Scarlets defeat. The most disappointing thing was that the Scarlets seemed hungrier than us.

"We beat the Scarlets three times last season and you could see that was in their approach and perhaps it was in ours. We looked like a team who were expecting things to happen and not making it happen.

"There were no positives and you have to put your hand up and say the Scarlets played better than us. It was a frustrating game, but I am not going to take anything away from the Scarlets because I thought they completely outplayed us."


The Blues were beaten at home by the Scarlets last Saturday

The Blues travel to Italy looking for a repeat of last month’s victory over Treviso, when Young’s men became the first side to win at the Stadio Monigo since the introduction of the Italian teams into the Magners League family.

They take on an Aironi side yet to pick up their first win in the competition but Young insists he is expecting a massive challenge against a team he knows will be desperate to get off the mark.

"I'm quite surprised Aironi haven't picked up a win yet. They've quite a lot of internationals and we know it's going to be tough up front.

"It's only a matter of time until they pick up a win and we have to make sure that it's not against us.

"Home games are big for them, they're really passionate. They know we're without out internationals and they will target this game."

One international who will be available to the Blues is veteran openside Martyn Williams,

The triple Lions tourist has been released by Wales to play his part in Friday night’s encounter while most of his international team-mates remain in camp preparing for the visit of Australia.

Williams has been unavailable for the past two weeks after being banned for a foul play in the Blues’ Heineken Cup win over Edinburgh.

The 35-year-old missed the European trip to Castres and the Magners League clash with the Scarlets, with the Blues losing twice in his absence.

As well as Williams, the Blues will also have Wales props Scott Andrews and John Yapp available in Italy.

"Martyn asked Warren (Gatland) if he could come back to us as he felt he needed a game," explained Young.

"In fairness to Warren he has done us a favour, he's let us have Scott Andrews and John Yapp, who will both play a half. If we didn't have that we would be struggling with the four props rule."


The Blues will be looking for a repeat of their win in Treviso

With the remainder of his Wales contingent remaining in camp, Friday’s fixture gives Young an opportunity to test the strength-in-depth within his squad.

The 43-year-old is looking forward to giving his fringe players valuable game time and he is convinced those players will not disappoint.

"People talk about regional coaches earning their money at this time, but I think it is time squad members earned their money.

"There are a lot of frustrated players in all squads who don’t get as much game time as they want.

"With Chris Czekaj called up it gives an opportunity to Dan Fish. At the end of the day these boys have to step up. That's why they're in the academy and it's the ideal opportunity for Dan to step up.

"We all know about his attacking game. His defence needed improvement and that's something we've worked on. But no one can doubt his attacking ability, he's great with the ball in hand.

"When internationals go away, the squad players get that game time and it is time for them to stand up and be counted and show what they are made of.

"I am sure there are a lot of eager players ready to play over the next four weeks."