European Champions Cup: Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues


Glasgow full-back Stuart Hogg was forced off at half-time in his last game against Edinburgh
European Champions Cup: Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues
Venue: Scotstoun Date: Sunday, 13 January Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on Radio Scotland & online; Text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Full-back Stuart Hogg is fit to return for Glasgow among 11 changes to their side for Sunday’s pivotal Champions Cup pool match against Cardiff Blues.

Wing Tommy Seymour is also back while Brandon Thomson starts at fly-half, with Adam Hastings on the bench.

Wing Tom James returns for Blues for the first time in over a year after time out to deal with depression.

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions hooker Matthew Rees is also back after recovering from a knee injury.

The 38-year-old has combined playing for Pontypridd in the Welsh Premiership while coaching them, but has not played for Blues since suffering the injury in March 2018.

Hogg has shaken off a hip injury which forced him off in his last outing against Edinburgh a fortnight ago.

Centre Nick Grigg, wing DTH van der Merwe and scrum-half Ali Price also come into the backline, where there is no place for Scotland centre Huw Jones, and Pete Horne is sidelined with a knee injury.

Props Oli Kebble and D’Arcy Rae, lock Rob Harley – who becomes the first Warriors player to reach 200 games – and back-rowers Callum Gibbins and Matt Fagerson start up front, with Jonny Gray absent with a shoulder injury.

Rees’ return for the visitors is the culmination of a gradual return that has included games for Blues A, Cardiff RFC and Pontypridd.

Wing James, who has 12 Wales caps, is among 12 changes in all, including Shane Lewis-Hughes making his competitive debut in the back row.

Right wing Owen Lane, a Wales contender for the autumn Test squad before injury struck in October, is also back while fly-half Jarrod Evans returns on the bench.

Glasgow sit four points behind Pool Three leaders Saracens, who they travel to face in their final pool match on 19 January.

A bonus-point win over the Blues would edge them closer to a place in the quarter-finals, but anything less than a four-try win could leave them needing points from their match against Saracens to qualify.

Scotland flanker Ryan Wilson also plays his 150th game for the Warriors, who have lost their last three matches – twice to Edinburgh, and away to Benetton in Treviso – since back-to-back wins over Lyon in their last European outings.

“Obviously the last three weeks have been disappointing, but we’ve created a lot of opportunities in those games and just haven’t been as clinical as we’ve needed to be,” said head coach Dave Rennie. “The quality of our decision-making hasn’t been good enough.

“It’s hurt us but there’s no sense of panic; we need to be sharper and we know this is a massive game for us in the context of Europe and we’ve picked the side accordingly.”

The Blues are unable to qualify, but since losing at home to Saracens in mid-December, John Mulvihill’s side have beaten Welsh rivals Dragons and Scarlets before completing their Pro14 derby games with a 20-11 defeat at Ospreys.

Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg, T Seymour, N Grigg, S Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; B Thomson, A Price; O Kebble, G Stewart, D Rae, R Harley, S Cummings, R Wilson, C Gibbins, M Fagerson.

Replacements: K Bryce, A Allan, P Du Plessis, T Swinson, C Fusaro, G Horne, A Hastings, L Jones.

Cardiff Blues: D Fish; O Lane, H Millard, W Halaholo, T James; S Shingler, L Williams; B Thyer, M Rees (capt), D Lewis, G Earle, R Thornton, S Lewis-Hughes, J Navidi, S Davies.

Replacements: E Lewis, R Carre, S Andrews, M Cook, N Williams, T Williams, J Evans, A Summerhill.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

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