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RaboDirect PRO12: Cardiff v Leinster team news

Last updated: 19th February 2014  

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Luke Fitzgerald returns for Leinster

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Phil Davies makes seven changes for Cardiff

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Cardiff Blues welcome Josh Navidi back into their side for Thursday's clash with Leinster at the Arms Park.

Navidi has been ruled out of action through injury since last month's Heineken Cup clash with Toulon, but the fit-again Wales international is now recalled by Blues as they hunt a vital win.

Director of Rugby Phil Davies makes a total of seven changes to his starting line-up with exciting young wing Owen Jenkins, who last month signed a long-term deal at Blues, one of four changes to the back division.

Gavin Evans is named at inside centre, where he will partner Isaia Tuifua, while a new-look half back pairing will see Gareth Davies and Lewis Jones join forces.

Sam Hobbs will captain the team from the front row while James Down is recalled for his second start of the season in the RaboDirect PRO12.

Macauley Cook moves to blindside flanker where he links up with Navidi and Robin Copeland in the back-row.

Changes on the bench include a call-up for back row Luke Hamilton and Wales Under-20 scrum half Tomos Williams.

"We have a total of 22 players missing, either away on international duty or injured, but have great faith in our boys and I know they can do a great job," said Davies.

"We have a number of young players involved and it's exciting to see them get an opportunity to impress."

New pack

Meanwhile for Leinster, coach Matt O'Connor has made wholesale changes to his pack and a number of changes to his backline due to players being away on international duty.

Most notably both Richardt Strauss and Luke Fitzgerald return from injury and are both named to start, albeit that Fitzgerald will again be assessed ahead of the game in Cardiff.

Michael Bent, Strauss and Tadhg Furlong make up the front row with Tom Denton and Quinn Roux selected in the second row. Bent will win his 25th Leinster cap at the Arms Park.

In the back row Kevin McLaughlin captains the side from six, with Academy player and Ireland U20s capped Jack Conan selected at eight for his first Leinster senior start. Dominic Ryan starts at seven after impressing off the bench last weekend against the Dragons.

In the backs Noel Reid and Brendan Macken get another outing at centre with this the third game in a row that they have started alongside each other.

Zane Kirchner continues at full back with Darragh Fanning once again selected on the wing but switching to the right to accommodate Fitzgerald on the left. Should Fitzgerald not be cleared to play Sam Coghlan-Murray will start in his stead.

At half-back Eoin Reddan is again selected at scrum half having fully recovered from a calf injury with Jimmy Gopperth selected at 10.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Owen Jenkins, 13 Isaia Tuifua, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones; 1 Sam Hobbs (c), 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Scott Andrews, 4 James Down, 5 Filo Paulo, 6 Macauley Cook, 7 Josh Navidi, 8 Robin Copeland.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Tom Davies, 18 Patrick Palmer, 19 Chris Dicomidis, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Tom Williams.

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Luke Fitzgerald / Sam Coghlan-Murray, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan; 1 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Tom Denton, 5 Quinn Roux, 6 Kevin McLaughlin (capt), 7 Dominic Ryan, 8 Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Edward Byrne, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Darren Hudson.

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