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
Head coach Rowland Phillips and key front rower Carys Phillips look ahead to games against Spain and Ireland as Wales Women ramp up their preparations for the forthcoming Six Nations. The two warm-up games are a 'massive opportunity to refine the squad' according to the Welsh camp.
Martyn Phillips has discussed details of the newly published 'Strategy for Welsh Rugby' which puts in black and white terms the plans and direction of the governing body of the national sport in Wales for the next decade.
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips has urged Welsh rugby fans to follow in the footsteps of their soccer counterparts at last summer's Euro Championship by backing their team to the hilt in the upcoming RBS 6 Nations campaign.
Chief executive Martyn Phillips has highlighted the plans for Wales to become a breeding ground for national and elite club rugby coaches, which are contained in the WRU's 10-year 'Strategy for Welsh Rugby'.
Andrew Coombs is enjoying his new role as Nelson forwards coach. The former Dragons and Wales lock has big ambitions to become a professional coach but feels it's important to learn the ropes in grassroots rugby and where better than his home club Nelson, with friends and family close to hand.
Students at Brynllywarch Hall School, near Newtown, have transformed their own lives, and are now having a positive impact on others through rugby. The sport has had a life-changing effect on the well-being of the students who are now delivering rugby sessions to local primary schools and playing for a new mixed ability side
Wales reached their first semi-final since 2013 in the opening round of this season's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie recaps on what proved to be an eventful tournament
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.