Martyn Williams has made a quicker than expected return from injury to line up for Cardiff Blues' EDF opener against Sale Sharks on Saturday.
Wales flanker Williams was ruled until the start of the Blues' Heineken Cup campaign after he tore ankle ligaments last month.
But while Williams fast recovery is a boost, Blues coach Dai Young's mood has been dampened following an injury setback to talismanic number eight Xavier Rush.
The 33-year-old former All Black suffered a reaction on his return from a knee injury against Connacht last weekend and will sit out the trip to Stockport.
Young said: "Just when we get one quality player back, we lose another one in Xavier Rush. He came through the match but still felt sore and stiff on Monday. We don't want him to get a long-term injury."
Rush is expected to be available for the Blues' European opener with Calvisano next Saturday along with Wales prop Gethin Jenkins who has a neck injury.
In the backs division, Jamie Robinson continues to get the nod over British Lion Tom Shanklin to partner Jamie Roberts at centre.
Young added: "The season is all about momentum and we've been building nicely over the last two weeks. If we can pick up a good result at Sale, it will boost our confidence even further going into Europe."
Sale Sharks hand their full debuts to Nick Mcleod at Full Back against his old club and Andy Tuilagi in the centre.
Head Coach Kingsley Jones said, " We have rested several players this week but we still have seven full internationals in the starting fifteen. Cardiff have named a full strength team for the game and it will give all the players we have selected an opportunity to impress and push for a first team place. The Autumn Internationals are just around the corner and as Philippe and I both said pre season, we will be using the whole squad during the season and giving all our younger players their chance."
Included in the 22 is Nick Royle who is on loan from Fylde RUFC. Royle has trained with the Sale squad during the pre-season and went on their tour to France in August as well as playing in the Middlesex 7s tournament. He has been a regular in the Sharks 'A' squad in the past two seasons.
Cardiff Blues: B Blair; L Halfpenny, J Robinson, J Roberts, G Thomas, C Sweeney, R Rees; J Yapp, R Thomas, T Filise, B Davies, P Tito (capt), A Powell, M Lewis, M Williams
Replacements: G Powell, G Williams, D Jones, R Sowden-Taylor, D Allinson, N Robinson, T Shanklin.
Sale: Nick McLeod, Selorm Kuadey, Rudi Keil, Andy Tuilagi, Oriol Ripol, Richard Wigglesworth, Chris Leck, Lionel Faure, Marc Jones, Martin Halsall, Chris Jones, Brent Cockbain, Jason White Captain, David Tait, Carl Fearns Replacements: Rob O'Donnell, Ross Davies, James Gaskell, Alex Shaw, Johnny Kennedy, Nick Royle, Will Cliff Stand By Player Tom Holmes
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference