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Places up for grabs ahead of Leinster opener - Mulvihill

15th August 2018

John Mulvihill insists places are still up for grabs ahead of the Guinness PRO14 opener against Leinster on August 31.

Cardiff Blues play their final pre-season friendly on Saturday, as they travel to Sandy Park to take on Gallagher Premiership finalists, Exeter Chiefs.

Mulvihill is expecting a typically tough challenge against Dave Baxter’s side, but believes the match will be a good way of seeing his side’s progress over pre-season.

“Whether you win or lose, you need to take confidence out of these games. For me it’s another trial match, and that’s the way they need to be played,” said the Australian.

“In a way, you’ll give people opportunities but you’re taking away the continuity within the game.

“We’ll get another good performance, and then we can sit down and see what our best squad will be going into the Leinster game.

“It’s an opportunity for us to play another group of players and expose them to a different level of competition again. 

“We’ve got a lot of our more experienced player playing for the first time this season and it’s going to be good for me to see them live.

“I’ve seen Exeter play a couple of times on TV last season. They’ve certainly got a big, physical pack, and Nic White organises them well from behind.

“They play with a little bit kick-chase game, and keep the ball in, so they back their fitness to put us under a little bit of pressure.

“Our scrum stood up really well last week, and we’re hopeful of another big performance.

“They have another game the following week, before they get started, so they might experiment a little bit this week and give opportunities to players coming through. They have a big squad and different competition, so it will be good to have a run out against them and test where we’re at.”

Wales’ Capital Region suffered an agonising last minute defeat to Leicester Tigers last week, as Joe Ford’s long-distance penalty sealed the win for the visitors.

However, the new Cardiff Blues head coach will remain optimistic by the performance from his young side.

Mulvihill said: “I think it was great for the young players to get an opportunity against Leicester.

“You had Rhys Carre and Keiron Assiratti in the front row, who are 20 and 21 years of age. Ben Jones played well, as did Ioan Davies, who is only 18 years old. We finished with a really young side on that day.

“Probably our second half performance was better than the first half, even with a lot of kids on the field, so they can take a lot of confidence out of that.

“They’ve been continually training with us for the past five or six weeks, so to have the opportunity, which might be their only one this year, it was really important that they put their best foot forward and do well.”

Champions collide in the Welsh capital, as Cardiff Blues host Leinster for the opening Guinness PRO14 clash of the campaign on Friday, August 31. Make sure you've got the hottest ticket in town NOW!