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Shock Cardiff Blues move for Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees?

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

By MARK ORDERS

  • Matthew Rees

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FORMER Wales captain Matthew Rees will face Australia in Cardiff tomorrow (2.30pm) with the Blues keen to prise him away from the Scarlets.

It is understood the Arms Park region have placed the 56-cap hooker on their hit list as he comes out of contract in Llanelli.

They are anxious to bolster their lightweight pack and see the Lions Test No. 2 from 2009 as potentially an ideal acquisition.

He would add steel to the Arms Park team's front row and stiffen their resolve.

All the regions are operating within Welsh rugby's £3.5 million salary cap but the Blues have cash spare and the scope to spend it after failing to keep Jamie Roberts at the region.

When Roberts served notice of his intention to move on, Blues chief executive Richard Holland claimed they had offered him a deal that would have made him "arguably the highest-paid player in the UK".

Rees is 32 over the next fortnight and while the Scarlets would no doubt want to keep such a battle-hardened campaigner, they do have another international hooker on their books in Ken Owens and a highly-rated youngster in Kirby Myhill, who has trained with Wales this autumn.

The Post understands that plans for a Blues swoop for the ex-Pontypridd man are well advanced.

If they do manage to land the Tonyrefail-born Rees, it would send out a message to their supporters that they are serious about rebuilding a pack that was weakened by departures in the close season.

Rees packs down against the Wallabies in a Wales team that shows four changes from the side that lost 33-10 to New Zealand.

All the alterations are up front — Gethin Jenkins and Scott Andrews starting in the front row, Ian Evans resuming at lock and Aaron Shingler figuring at blindside flanker.

Paul James is unavailable, Aaron Jarvis and Bradley Davies are injured and Ryan Jones is on the bench, having only resumed training late in the week after the bump he picked up against the All Blacks.

Wales need to avoid defeat to preserve their position in the top eight in the global rankings and secure a place in the second pot of seeds for the World Cup.

Failure to do so would see them run the risk of being pitched into an unfavourable group at the global tournament in England in 2015.

But Gatland will not be losing any sleep ahead of Monday's World Cup pool draw.

Doubtless looking ahead to a time when his squad will have the likes of Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate and Alun Wyn Jones fit again, he said: "If anyone is looking at us, when it comes around to 2015 and having had the preparation time together, I don't think any team particularly fancies getting Wales in their group."

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