Former Exeter lock Damian Welch is set to make his Cardiff Blues debut

Pro14: Cardiff Blues v EdinburghDate: Friday, 1 September Venue: Cardiff Arms Park Kick-off: 19:35 BSTCoverage: Live on BBC Two Wales, & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

Cardiff Blues hand new lock signing Damian Welch his competitive debut for Friday’s Pro14 opener with Edinburgh.

Samoa centre Rey Lee-Lo starts despite being given an extended rest in pre-season, while Wales flanker Ellis Jenkins is out with a hamstring injury.

Edinburgh wing Jason Harries and prop Darryl Marfo make their first competitive starts for the team.

Scotland internationals Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Duncan Weir are selected as the half-back pairing.

Hosts Blues are without Wales and British and Irish Lions flanker Sam Warburton, who is on an extended rest period following the tour to New Zealand.

With Jenkins’ injury – which could sideline the back-row for up to 12 weeks – and Wales Under-20 player James Botham having hurt an ankle, that leaves only Josh Navidi as the only specialist open-side.

Navidi takes the seven shirt in a starting XV captained by veteran hooker Matthew Rees.

Wales outside-half Gareth Anscombe misses the start of the season with a groin injury, so Jarrod Evans starts at 10 with Steven Shingler on the bench.

Blues did the double over Edinburgh last season, but coach Danny Wilson said they can take nothing for granted in the new campaign.

“Ultimately it means nothing – league points start on Friday. But it was a pleasing night and hopefully a confidence boost going into Friday,” Wilson said.

“Edinburgh have always had a big pack of forwards who set-piece well, a good defence and I don’t see that changing from Richard Cockerill taking over.”

Edinburgh start with newly appointed captain Magnus Bradbury at number eight and he is joined in the back-row by Jamie Ritchie and John Hardie.

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill is looking forward to the challenge of playing in south Wales.

“It’s my first experience [of Cardiff Arms Park]. There’s a synthetic field, which will make the game quick, and we’ve not won there for the last four years so it’s going to be a challenge for us,” said the former Leicester and Toulon boss,

“The playing group are in a good place, but we need to make sure that we go there and do the job. We’ve got to have a tough mind-set and physically we’ve got to be very good. It’s important that we get off to a good start and bring some points back.

“We’ve got internationals that are coming back in and available and we’ve got guys that have done 11 or 12 weeks of pre-season. We’ve picked a team which we feel is the right squad, because of the dynamics of bringing international guys back in – some will feature, some won’t.”


Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees (capt), Taufa’ao Filise, Seb Davies, Damian Welch, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kirby Myhil, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Macauley Cook, Sion Bennett, Tomos Williams, Steve Shingler, Tom James.

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Dougie Fife, Chris Dean, Junior Rasolea, Jason Harries; Duncan Weir, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Darryl Marfo, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Anton Bresler, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, John Hardie, Magnus Bradbury (capt).

Replacements: Ross Ford, Michele Rizzo, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, Nathan Fowles, Jason Tovey, Glenn Bryce.

Referee: George Clancy, IRFU


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