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
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose
WRUTV caught up with Wales Women captain Rachel Taylor at the RBS 6 Nations launch and how a good crowd really helps boost the girls performance. Tickets for all three Women's home games at The Gnoll, Neath are available from www.wru.wales/tickets