The Blues will look to get their Celtic Cup campaign back on track against their local rivals at the BT Sports Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday. And Lewis-Hughes views it as a big opportunity to kick start his season.
“It’s always a good game when you play any local derby against a team like the Dragons,” said the academy product.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a ‘friendly’ game if I’m honest with you, and I’m looking forward to it, and I know the other boys are up for it as well, so it should be a good game. Hopefully we can get a good turnout for it, with a lot of people coming for Summerfest.
“With the international game being shown as well, hopefully it will be a good occasion and will be a good day for rugby.” With the senior coaching team taking charge of the Arms Park encounter, some familiar faces from the senior squad, with PRO14 experience, have been included in the 25-man squad.
Will Boyde is set for his Blues debut, having been named among the replacements bench, as has Jason Tovey, who joined from the Dragons this summer. Alun Lawrence captains the new look outfit and is joined in the back-row by Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham, while Macauley Cook partners Ben Murphy in the second-row.
Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher and Will Davies-King start in the front-row to complete a pack of Cardiff Blues academy products. Lewis Jones partners Dan Fish at half-back, while Garyn Smith and Harri Millard line-up in midfield.
Elsewhere in the backs, Wales U20s star Ioan Davies pulls on the number 15 jersey and is joined in the back three by the experience of Jason Harries and Aled Summerhill. ”We have taken the opportunity to blend youth and experience for this Celtic Cup Clash,” said Mulvihill.
“Eleven players out of the starting fifteen had limited or no game time in the previous season and this game gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents under pressure. We have rewarded their hard work and consistency in training this preseason with a start against a very good Dragons outfit.”
The Dragons A will be looking to build on their impressive victory over Munster A last weekend when they travel to the Welsh capital. And flanker James Benjamin is confident his side can give a good account of themselves against a strong Blues outfit.
“We have given ourselves a chance to really do something in this competition with the win over Munster. Everyone is beating each other so it looks wide open,” he said.
“I look around the squad, see the boys in training, and know there is real quality throughout. The philosophy in this competition is to play and play for space.
“The coaches have told us if we see space to attack it and express ourselves. It was coast to coast at times against Munster and the youngsters here love that. The players have enjoyed that style and we certainly have enough ability in the Celtic Cup squad to hurt any team.”
In west Wales Ospreys A will also face a local derby against Scarlets A in Llanelli. And Ospreys head coach Richard Fussell believes his side are heading in the right direction.
“It’s been a really good opportunity for the boys to be exposed to a higher level of rugby,” he said.
“We’ve had new combinations and new mixes of players coming in and we’ve put a really good plan in place for the boys to have the opportunity to train and travel as a group and deliver as a team on the field.
“We spoke about it prior to the game that we needed to ensure we stuck together and backed ourselves with our effort. Our principles took us through that game and I don’t think the boys quite realised that they had a chance there at the time and when we reflect on it we did leave one out there.
“It’s all ifs and buts but for these boys it was a good starting point for them to show what they are capable of. Now it’s a case of can we go and back up these performances and keep progressing through the tournament.”