Cardiff Blues: Sam Warburton return means back-row dilemma

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton led Wales to a 12-6 victory over South Africa on 29 November
European Rugby Challenge Cup - Pool One: London Irish v Cardiff Blues
Venue: Madejski Stadium Date: Saturday, 13 December Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Sport website

Cardiff Blues coach Mark Hammett says Sam Warburton is "looking good to play" in the European Challenge Cup return fixture with London Irish.

The Wales captain missed the 24-14 win at Cardiff Arms Park, but is fit for the game in Reading on Saturday.

Hammett faces a selection dilemma after good performances by the back row during Warburton's absence with Wales.

"Yes it's a tough decision, but it's better to have those ones than finding it easy," said the New Zealander.

"He's [Warburton] got through the weekend really well and he's gone through some heavy sessions so he's looking good to play.

"When you look at the loose forward trio, certainly over the last couple of weeks they've been outstanding, led obviously by Josh Navidi, but they've all played their part."

Blues top Challenge Cup Pool One with three wins out of three, and a second win against London Irish would put them within touching distance of a place in the knockout stages.

Josh Navidi makes a tackle.
Josh Navidi (wearing eight) was named man of the match in Cardiff Blues' 24-14 win over London Irish

Navidi - normally an open-side flanker - played number eight against London Irish with Ellis Jenkins wearing seven and Josh Turnbull - normally a back row - packing down in the second row.

Hammett hinted that Turnbull - a summer signing from Scarlets - may face another match in the second row at the Madejski Stadium.

"We've been a little bit short so the guys who did the job out there have been excellent," added Hammett.

"Josh Turnbull had his second outing at lock and has just been brilliant really. He may have to do one more shift - we'll have to wait and see."

Wales international Navidi welcomed the return of Lions captain Warburton.

"It's good as it shows the strength in depth in the squad," he said.

"We have players coming in and others going out. It's a good mixture and everyone knows what they're doing - we just need to 'bring it' next week."

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