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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Cardiff aiming high
Iestyn Harris
Iestyn Harris is a significant capture for Cardiff
New Cardiff coach Rudy Joubert has heaped pressure on himself by announcing that his aim is to win the Heineken Cup.

But last season they missed out on domestic silverware as well, although they were runners-up in the Welsh-Scottish League.

Even with the loss of Gareth Thomas to Bridgend, Cardiff still have a talented backline and the addition of England A centre Matt Allen will fill the gap left by the departed Wales centre/wing.

Allen's midfield partnership with youngster Jamie Robinson is an exciting prospect and could shape Cardiff's whole season.

  Season tips:
Celtic League prediction: Play-off stage
Welsh-Scottish League prediction: 3rd
Star player: Jamie Robinson

However, wing Craig Morgan, their leading try-scorer last season, broke his ankle at the pre-season training camp in France, while another of the club's international wings, Nick Walne, needs knee surgery and could be out for six months.

Joubert has moved swiftly to plug the holes and has recruited giant Kiwi wing Craig Hudson, 23, from French side La Rochelle. Hudson stands 6ft 6in and weighs in at 16st 9lb.

The recruitment of Rob Appleyard to the backrow adds experienced cover, although Canada flanker Dan Baugh needs further knee surgery and could miss most of the season.

But the emergence of a crop of youngsters, including rising backrow Robin Sowden-Taylor, bodes well.

However, Cardiff's four Lions tourists - Rob Howley, Neil Jenkins, Martyn Williams and Dai Young - may all miss the start of the season as they recover from a punishing schedule.

Jamie Robinson
Jamie Robinson is an exciting outside centre
Their absence may leave Cardiff with too much ground to gain on their rivals in the Welsh-Scottish League but the Blue and Blacks should be at full strength for the Heineken Cup.

Former winners Northampton - Allen's previous club - will prove tough but Joubert should expect his side to qualify from a pool also containing Glasgow and Montferrand.

But South African Joubert could well have an ace up his sleeve in the form of rugby league star Iestyn Harris.

Harris officially became a Cardiff player at the beginning of August and will prove a formidable addition once he becomes more familiar with the 15-man game.

Expect the former Great Britain rugby league star to start making his presence felt in the new year.

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