Anscombe switch as Blues return to rugby’s top table
GARETH Anscombe has been switched to full-back from outside-half for Cardiff Blues’ return to the top table of European club rugby.
The Wales international, who is rugby great Brian O’Driscoll’s Welshman to star in this season’s Champions Cup, takes over from Matthew Morgan with Jarrod Evans coming in as play-maker for tomorrow’s clash with Lyon at the Matmut Stadium de Gerland (1pm).
The Blues lifted Europe’s second tier Challenge Cup with a stunning mugging of Gloucester in the final in Bilbao last May.
And they want to challenge for glory in the Champions Cup with new coach John Mulvihill declaring: “It’s great for us as a region to be back in it - the significance of this competition is vitally important to us.
“Just being at the launch event, it really hit home what a big competition this is and how important it is that we are in it each year.
“It is the very best of the best.
“We will go into every game to compete and Lyon is a great fixture to kick-off our campaign.
“It will be a fantastic occasion and we are all looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere.
“We have done our homework on them and know if we really go to compete, throw the ball around and make it a fast game then we will have an opportunity to win.”
The Australian has made seven changes from the team which beat neighbours Dragons away in the Guinness PRO14 last weekend.
Tomos Williams comes in for Lloyd Williams at scrum-half while Samoa star Rey Lee-Lo has been demoted to the substitutes with Garyn Smith getting his first start of the campaign.
Rhys Gill and Dillon Lewis come in at prop in place of Brad Thyer and Dmitri Arhip while hard worker Macauley Cook replaces the injured George Earle at lock with Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins and Josh Navidi forming a quick back-row.
“We’ve rotated the team a little to ensure boys are managed properly and have purposely picked a very mobile and dynamic back-row to suit the game-plan we want to implement,” said Mulvihill.
Star summer recruit Samu Manoa is expected to make his debut off the bench following visa and fitness issues.
The Blues beat Lyon last season en-route to winning the Challenge Cup last season with 13 of Sunday’s match-day squad having tasted victory at Stade de Gerland.
It is the French club’s debut season in the Champions Cup but they have got off to an impressive start in the French Top 14 to sit third in the table.
Charlie Ngatai; Toby Arnold, Rudi Wulf, Thibaut Regard, Noa Nakaitaci; Lionel Beauxis, Jean-Marc Doussain; Alexandre Menini, Mickael Ivaldi, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Felix Lambey, Hendrik Roodt, Julien Puricelli (capt), Patrick Sobela, Loann Goujon.
Jeremie Maurouard, Raphael Chaume, Clement Ric, Manuel Carizza, Carl Fearns, Dylan Cretin, Quentin Delord, Pierre-Louis Barassi.
Gareth Anscombe; Owen Lane, Garyn Smith, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harries; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Macauley Cook, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Josh Navidi.
Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Dmitri Arhip, Rory Thornton, Samu Manoa, Lloyd Williams, Rey Lee-Lo, Aled Summerhill,
Reps: Blues: Reps:
> Gareth Anscombe reverts to full-back for the Blues against Lyon