Taufa’ao Filise will make his 250th appearance for Cardiff Blues as one of five changes for the sold out Guinness PRO14 derby with the Scarlets on New Year’s Eve (3.15pm).
The tight-head prop returns to the starting line-up at Cardiff Arms Park after serving a three-match suspension and reaches the milestone alongside Josh Navidi, who makes his 150th appearance.
Three of the changes to the starting line-up that claimed a Boxing Day victory over the Dragons come up front, with Rhys Gill also returning from injury and Josh Turnbull selected in the second-row.
In the backs, Willis Halaholo returns, to reform his centre partnership with Rey Lee-Lo, and following a try-scoring appearance from the bench last week, Tom James starts on the wing.
Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson said: “It’s a phenomenal and very rare achievement to make 250 appearances for one team, particularly in the modern era.
“Fa’ao’s a very popular member of the squad, is a consummate professional and you could not ask for a better occasion for him to hit this milestone than a sold out Welsh derby at the Arms Park.
“Similarly it’s a great achievement for Josh, who is now being recognised on the international stage, and has been a brilliant servant for the region for a number of years.”
The Blues have also been boosted by the return to fitness of a quartet of Wales internationals. Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Ellis Jenkins and Alex Cuthbert have all been named among the replacements following injury.
Wilson continued: “It is great to have players coming back to fitness and competition for places following a period where we were quite limited in terms of selection.
“That is what we need during this vital period of the season and we’re very much looking forward to what promises to be a brilliant occasion against the reigning champions.
“We are going into the clash on the back of some good form, with seven wins from our last 10 first-team fixtures and five in a row at home, but we are under no illusions of the challenge the Scarlets present.”
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Tom James; Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees (capt), Taufa’ao Filise, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Ellis Jenkins, Lloyd Williams, Jarrod Evans, Alex Cuthbert.
29 Dec 2017