Cardiff Blues will be without talisman Number 8 Xavier Rush for their New Year’s Eve derby match against the Ospreys.
Maama Molitika in at No 8, with Sam Warburton at openside and Andries Pretorius on the blindside. It’s an unchanged second row from the team that faced Northampton with Bradley Davies and Paul Tito starting, while Deiniol Jones has recovered from an eye socket injury and is on the bench.
There’s one change in the front row with T Rhys Thomas taking the place of the injured Gareth Williams. There is only one change in the backs with Jamie Roberts starting at centre in place of fellow Lion Tom Shanklin.
Speaking of the selection David Young said, “We looked at picking two teams over the festive period, as obviously we didn’t have a massive turnaround, but we didn’t make too many changes for the Ospreys match.”
“Xavier Rush will miss the match due to a neck injury he has been struggling with for a few weeks, while Gareth Williams and Michael Paterson are also struggling with minor injuries.”
On the scrum-half front Young said, “Rhys Downes is about two weeks away while Lloyd Williams should be back in late March.”
The Ospreys equalled their highest ever Magners League total in their 60-17 humbling of Scarlets at Liberty Stadium on Monday and have won six of their last seven encounters in all competitions. Speaking of that result Young added,
“The Ospreys have been threatening to put in that kind of performance for the last few weeks and their performance against the Scarlets was excellent. They will certainly come into this game with a lot of confidence but we need the win to get the points.
"We’ve got to make sure we are in the top four of the Magners League and then you are in one off games where anything can happen. We need to play at the level we played against Northampton but take our opportunities.”
The Blues’ only victory in their last seven matches in all competitions was 38-6 at home to Glasgow Warriors in the Magners League on 27 November, but will be looking to put in a big display against their Welsh rivals in front of a record crowd.
“We much rather play in a fuller stadium but even against Northampton we couldn’t have asked for much more from the fans – they really got behind us. We need to perform for the crowd to get behind us,” added Young.
Tickets for the match, which kicks off at 2.05pm on New Year’s Eve, are still available by calling the Ticket Office on 0845 345 1400.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj; 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James; 10 Dan Parks, 9 Richie Rees; 1 Gethin Jenkins, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 3 Tafa’ao Filise, 4 Bradley Davies, 5 Paul Tito (captain), 6 Andries Pretorius, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Maama Molitika
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 John Yapp, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Deiniol Jones, 20 Martyn Williams, 21 Tom Slater, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Leigh Halfpenny