Neath's latest international Andrew Bishop, capped by Wales in the second test in South Africa during the summer, returns to The Gnoll for the first time and takes his place in the centre when the Welsh All Blacks play Bridgend in the Principality Premiership this weekend.
Bishop was virtually ever-present in 2004/05 when Neath won the first of their four successive League titles and there should be a good crowd at The Gnoll for his homecoming as Neath, beginning to hit their straps, take on a Bridgend side who are undergoing something of a revival after a difficult last season.
Director of Rugby Rowland Phillips said: "Bridgend have shown the improvement this year that we thought they would under the influence of ex-Neath men Paul Williams and Andrew Millward. Our former outside-half Gareth Bowen has done a fine job for them too as stand-in captain.
"They have been competitive in all games to date and, from all reports, they were decidedly unlucky against Newport last week so we know the challenge that faces us and we know that we must continue to build our game.
"From the Neath point of view, two big wins have got our season back on track but there is a long way to go yet. What has really been pleasing is the number of tries and points we are scoring which suggests that the new systems we are putting in place are beginning to have an effect. We can draw confidence from the last two games but our aim is to keep improving."
Champions Neath have run up 119 points and 18 tries in their last two games against Cross Keys (62-20) and away to Bedwas (59-20) but the coaching team are aware that much work remains to be done and feel that the best is yet to come.
Hooker Gerwyn Price, in outstanding form this season, picked up a knee injury last Saturday so Andy Littlehales (a try-scoring replacement at Bedwas) takes over with the experienced James Richards eagerly waiting in the wings.
Prop Martin Jones also returns after a fortnight's absence during which that remarkable veteran Andrew Howell has performed bench duty.
The Welsh All Blacks also welcome back Neil Edwards and Gareth Gravell who missed the win over Bedwas. Last week's man of the match Haydn Pugh is on the replacements' bench alongside flanker James Merriman who makes a timely return after injury.
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