Davies return is 'massive' for Cardiff

Des Berry

CARDIFF BLUES lock Bradley Davies, the villain in Wales' smash-and-grab raid on the Aviva Stadium, is returning to Dublin to dump Leinster out of the Heineken Cup.

Davies appeared for the first time for his club last Friday since his seven-match suspension for a reckless spear tackle on Ireland's Donnacha Ryan in the Six Nations in February.

"That is a big thing for us. He (Davies) has been a fantastic player for Wales and Cardiff Blues and just to have him back has been like a breath of fresh air through the squad. It is massive," said Blues coach Justin Burnell.

"He is a good bloke, a good leader and he has really grabbed hold of the setpiece over the last few weeks and had a good look at that from a technical point of view, so we are really excited about having him back.

"Leinster play with lot of continuity, they have some fantastic pace out wide and a great pack of forwards -- they are a bit of an all-round package and we expect a tough encounter," conceded Burnell.


Increasingly, Davies is playing the part of the 'enforcer' in Welsh rugby as a huge man with the total commitment to back up his physical tools.

It would be dangerous to see Cardiff as a one-man band now that Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts have been removed by injury.

They still have a formidable pack of forwards, led by Gethin Jenkins, Davies and ageless number eight Xavier Rush, as well as a stellar three-quarter line and a long-distance arrowhead kicker in Leigh Halfpenny.

For all that, Leinster have an arsenal of heavy guns up front to call on with the arrival of Brad Thorn and the return to fitness of captain Leo Cullen, plus the fast-improving Devin Toner and Damian Browne.

Cardiff's Rush, now 34, was not about to rush to judgment on the impact of 37-year-old Thorn: "It's quite nice to play against someone who is older than me these days so it will be good to play against Brad," he said.

"It has been a while since I played both with him and against him. He is a big lump and a real professional who obviously has also got a lot of history with rugby league."

Whether Cardiff are in Leinster's league is another matter.