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Garyn Smith captains youthful Cardiff Blues at Exeter Chiefs

Garyn Smith

Garyn Smith will captain a Cardiff Blues team containing 13 players who have come through the region’s pathway when they face Exeter Chiefs in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Sunday.

In total 19 of the match-day 23 are products of the Blues regional system, with an emphasis on youth for the trip to Sandy Park.

Three players – James Beal, Dane Blacker and Jack Davies– will make their senior debuts for the region with seven more, including new signing Anton Peikrishvili, set for the honour from the bench.

But Richard Hodges, who takes charge of the team, insists it is the perfect opportunity for youngsters to stake a claim against strong English opposition.

Hodges said: “A lot of the players are experiencing their first ever professional players week in the build-up.

“Top Tier One academy players such as Harri Millard and Shane Lewis-Hughes are boys who have made names for themselves on the international age grade circuit, but many of them will be making their first team debuts this weekend.

“Last week, Exeter fielded the likes of Dave Ewers, Sam Hill, Ollie Devoto. These are the players we want to see playing on Sunday, so our youngsters can give a real crack at it.

“If you speak to Shane Lewis-Hughes he wants to go up against Dave Ewers, Garyn Smith against Sam Hill, Harri Millard against Ollie Devoto and James Sheekey versus Tom Johnson.

“We’ve also got some boys who are coming in to the team who haven’t had a lot of first team minutes this season so far, such as the likes of Brad Thyer, James Down, Kirby Myhill and Garyn.

“What you will get from this group of boys is a shedload of energy and enthusiasm come Sunday afternoon, and it will be good to see how they go.”

With many of Wales’ Capital Region’s senior squad given a recovery week ahead of their renewed assault on the Guinness PRO12 some of the players on Sunday may be unfamiliar.

In the starting line-up, second-row Davies has been plying his trade for Cardiff RFC, making five appearances this season.

Fellow Blue and Black Rhys Carre is included on the bench and is joined by Under-18s second-row Hemi Barnes, who has been playing for Pontypridd.

With Lloyd Williams and Tomos Williams on international duty and Lewis Jones sidelined, the Blues have registered Llandovery’s scrum-half Rhodri Davies, who has enjoyed involvement with Wales Sevens.

Exeter kicked off their Anglo-Welsh campaign with 29-15 defeat at Harlequins last weekend and will be determined to bounce back on home soil.

Cardiff Blues: Rhun Williams; Aled Summerhill, Harri Millard, Garyn Smith (capt), James Beal; Jarrod Evans, Dane Blacker; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Dillon Lewis, Jack Davies, James Down, Seb Davies, Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Sheekey

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Carre, Anton Peikrishvili, Hemi Barnes, Morgan Sienawski, Rhodri Davies, Ben Jones, Owen Lane.

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