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Gareth Anscombe's tough dilemma

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PRO 14    

Gareth Anscombe faces loyalty dilemma as Cardiff face Ospreys this weekend

New Ospreys import Gareth Anscombe has the full support of his current Cardiff head coach that he will maintain his professionalism as the two sides clash this weekend.

Anscombe will line up for the Blues against Ospreys at Principality Stadium as part of Welsh Rugby’s Judgement Day in the Pro14, knowing that a win over his new side could cost them a spot in next season’s European Champions Cup.

The 27-year-old New Zealand-born pivot recently signed a big-money deal with the Swansea-based club after a five-year stint in the Welsh capital.

This weekend acts as the last round of the Pro14 regular season, and Ospreys currently sit in fourth spot in Conference A with 54 points, making them sixth in the league overall.

The top seven Pro14 sides will qualify for the next edition of the Champions Cup, but with conference rivals Cardiff, Italian club Benetton Treviso, Scottish side Edinburgh and Welsh outfit Scarlets all within four points of Ospreys, the race to fill the seven-team quota is still well and truly alive.

Just one point separates Cardiff and Ospreys, meaning everything will be on the line in their meeting this weekend, but Blues head coach John Mulvihill has the utmost confidence in trusting Anscombe’s integrity come Saturday.

“He is one of our best 23 players and he will be taking part,” Mulvihill told BBC Sport.

“He is 100 percent professional.

“I think it was a pretty easy decision to make as a head coach, you want your best players playing. We have a few injuries in our backline, so it is pretty simple for me.

“He will finish off, the champion he has been for Cardiff Blues for the last number of seasons, I am sure he will want to finish off well and be remembered as that type of player for us.”

Mulvihill echoed his own sentiments when was queried on the issue again by Wales Online.

“If there’s a 50/50 ball or a goal to be kicked, he’s the man to do it. It may be the Gareth Anscombe show,” he said.

“Gareth will want to leave Cardiff Blues on a high and I have 100 percent confidence in him.”

Ospreys head coach Allan Clarke also told BBC Sport that he believed Anscombe would provide a strong challenge for his future teammates, and had no concerns regarding the possibility of the 26-test first-five deliberately underperforming.

“He is a quality player and person and has a lot integrity and I have no doubt he will come out and deliver his best,” he said.

“I am absolutely delighted he has decided to come to us.”

As part of the Judgement Day double-header, Scarlets and Dragons will face off earlier in the day in another all-Welsh encounter.

Pro14 race for the Champions Cup:

Conference A:

1 – Glasgow (76pts)

2 – Munster (73pts)

3 – Connacht (61pts)

4 – Ospreys (54pts)*

5 – Cardiff (53pts)*

6 – Cheetahs (41pts)

7 – Zebre (19pts)

Conference B:

1 – Leinster (75pts)

2 – Ulster (59pts)

3 – Treviso (52pts)*

4 – Edinburgh (51pts)*

5 – Scarlets (50pts)*

6 – Kings (22pts)

7 – Dragons (21pts)

(* = still eligible for top seven spot but not yet secured)

Final round fixtures:

Dragons v Scarlets @ Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Cheetahs v Kings @ Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Zebre v Treviso @ Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma

Cardiff v Ospreys @ Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Ulster v Leinster @ Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Glasgow v Edinburgh @ Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow

Munster v Connacht @ Thomond Park, Limerick

In other news:

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Gareth Anscombe faces loyalty dilemma as Cardiff face Ospreys this weekend