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Cardiff Blues to honour Jonah Lomu ahead of Challenge Cup clash

Published 18/11/2015

Cardiff Blues to honour former player Jonah Lomu before the European Challenge Cup match with Harlequins
Cardiff Blues to honour former player Jonah Lomu before the European Challenge Cup match with Harlequins

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson plans to find some home comforts at the Arms Park, starting on what will be an emotional evening following the death of their former player Jonah Lomu.

The Blues plan to honour New Zealand legend Lomu, whose death at the age of 40 has shocked the world of rugby, before their European Challenge Cup clash with Harlequins on Thursday.

Lomu made a big impression during his stay in South Wales between 2005 and 2006, shortly before his retirement from the sport, and the Blues hope to provide the perfect tribute to the 63-times capped All Black by backing up their opening Pool 3 victory over Calvisano in Italy.

"Winning your home games is a must in Europe," Wilson told the official Blues website.

"For us at the moment, and our journey to where we want to get, our focus is on performance.

"We need to get a good home performance under the belt and show that we are making steps in the right direction.

"Harlequins are a well-coached and well-drilled side that will give us a really big challenge."

The Aviva Premiership visitors opened their European campaign with a comprehensive 41-18 victory over Montpellier last week, but they have made eight changes for the trip to Arms Park and look significantly weaker.

England internationals Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, Marland Yarde, Danny Care and Joe Marler are among those to stand down, but centre Harry Sloan feels Harlequins have enough strength in depth to cope with the changes.

"We are going into this competition to win it but it is also a chance to get boys who haven't played too much a chance," Sloan told the London club's official website.

"We have got a very competitive squad.

"We won it in 2011 and Gloucester last year, so hopefully we can bring the trophy home again.

"It should be good on Cardiff's 4G pitch - that will suit us because we like to throw it about a bit."

Holders Gloucester are also in Challenge Cup action at La Rochelle on Thursday night as European rugby returns to France for the first time since last week's Paris terrorist attacks that killed 129 people.

Gloucester began the defence of their trophy with a 23-10 victory over Zebre and only four players have been retained from that side, with a revamped back division featuring James Hook at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees at outside-half.

"We built our success last season on going to a couple of difficult places in France and winning," Gloucester Rugby director of rugby David Humphreys told epcrugby.com.

"We know La Rochelle have been going well in the Top14 and they will pose a huge challenge for us.

"But we want players to come in and put their hands up, we have to develop the squad.

"We want at least 30 players who are able to come into the side if there is an injury or we decide to rest someone, and the performance doesn't suffer."

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