Gareth Anscombe is named amongst today’s replacements for Harlequins v Blues at Twickenham Stoop and I hope to see him add some extra flair to a Cardiff side brimming with confidence after two months of great performances.
Recent wins over Scarlets and Connacht will certainly set the Cardiff region in good stead. Looking at Harlequins’ team sheet for today, however, I can’t help but feel Blues are against a different calibre of opponent, boasting international heavyweights and hardened match-winners right across the park. Joe Marler, Nick Easter, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Jamie Roberts and Mike Brown all start as Quins look to underline their undisputed dominance in this pool to date, and cement their place in the quarter-finals. Following eye-catching victories for both Ospreys and Dragons on Friday night, however, I believe Blues are capable of a shock victory here.
One thing I’ve been impressed with this season so far is Blues’ determination to see out a game for the full 80 minutes. It’s taken a few seasons, but I feel like this squad are finally playing for each other. They look hungry for it, are attacking with confidence, and defending with real tenacity. I think Danny Wilson and Graham Steadman are doing a terrific job, and I look forward to further progress in these areas over the seasons to come.
Some shrewd signings were made over the Christmas spell which I believe can further bolster Blues’ options in two key areas; in particular, Nick Williams and Matthew Morgan. With Rhys Patchell leaving for Scarlets in the summer, Morgan is just what the doctor ordered. He’s fast, unpredictable, has the versatility of Patchell, and will undoubtedly want to push himself with his performances in the hope of furthering his international honours.
I feel Blues have been in need of an additional ball-carrying threat in the mould of Nick Williams for some time, and his signing will add some real grunt to the Cardiff pack. He reminds me of Xavier Rush, and I hope he will be every bit as fearless and uncompromising as the former Kiwi No.8. If his consistency for Ulster is anything to go by, I’m expecting him to be a hugely influential signing come the autumn.
Good luck to the Blues today!