Cardiff BluesCardiff Blues scrum half Richie Rees returns to rugby action against Ospreys

Having missed the entire Six Nations campaign, Richie Rees will make his first start since his 12 week ban started at the beginning of January. Rees was suspended after being found guilty of foul play, in that he had made contact with the eye/eye area of England international Dylan Hartley during the Cardiff Blues v Northampton Saints, Heineken Cup match in December.

Coincidentally his last start for the Blues was against the Ospreys on New Year’s Eve, when the Blues recorded a 27-25 point victory.

Other changes in the backs sees Tom James return having recovered from a minor foot injury. Jamie Roberts starts at Centre with Dafydd Hewitt moving to the bench and Dan Parks at Outside-half with Ceri Sweeney also moving to the bench.

Saturday’s match against the Ospreys will also see Cardiff Blues full back, Chris Czekaj, notch up his 100th game for the Blues in the week that he signed a new contract extension with the region.

There are three changes in the forwards with Bradley Davies starting in the second row and Gareth Williams returning from a calf injury. Fau Filise also returns from an Achilles injury.

The Blues travel to Swansea knowing it’s a must win game for them if they have ambitions of finish in the top four of the Magners League. They are currently in fifth place, five points behind the Ospreys, but with a game in hand.

Speaking ahead of the match, Cardiff Blues Director of rugby, David Young, said,

“Going to the Ospreys will focus their minds. And we know where we are – we know we’ve got to win the five games…and we’ve got play better.

“Make no bones about it, very few teams go to the Ospreys and win. So we know how difficult that’s going to be, but we’re going to have to do it. If we want to get into these Play-Offs, that’s what we’ve got to do.

“We’ve got three Welsh derbies and they’re always difficult to win no matter where they are. Every game is a Cup Final. We’ve got to go to these places and win.

“It’s a big mountain for us to climb. We’re capable of it and that’s what I’ve said to the players. But we’re going to have to be better than we were – it’s as simple as that.”

Cardiff Blues 15 Chris Czekaj 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Casey Laulala 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Tom James 10 Dan Parks 9 Richie Rees

8 Xavier Rush 7 Martyn Williams 6 Andries Pretorius 5 Paul Tito (c) 4 Bradley Davies 3 Scott Andrews 2 Gareth Williams 1 Fau Filise

16 Rhys Williams 17 Sam Hobbs 18 Nathan Trevett 19 Michael Paterson 20 Mamma Molitika 21 Lloyd Williams 22 Ceri Sweeney 23 Dafydd Hewitt

The following players were not available for selection because of injury:

Richard Mustoe – Groin

John Yapp – Calf

Deiniol Jones – Shoulder

T Rhys Thomas – Hip

Sam Warburton – Knee

Ben Blair – Knee

James Down – Foot

Gethin Jenkins – Toe

Tom Shanklin – Knee

Tom Davies – Calf