Wales centre Andy Marinos has been ruled out of Friday night's Principality Cup quarter-final against Cardiff at the Arms Park. Marinos has had his right hand put in plaster after dislocating a finger in the Lloyds TSB Six Nations defeat by England at Twickenham last weekend.
"Andy was hoping to recover in time to help us to defend our Principality Cup title, but we are not prepared to risk him. He is too important to both club and country," said Newport team manager Jim McCreedy.
"At this stage we don't know whether or not he will be fit for Wales to face Scotland next week, but we are obviously concerned to have him in tip-top condition for the run in to the Welsh/Scottish League title and for the final rounds of the cup, if we win at the Arms Park."
While Marinos has been ruled out, definitely ruled in are Wales locks Ian Gough and Mike Voyle and Wales Under 21 No 8 Andy Powell. But another Wales Under 21 cap, Nathan Brew, will be out for a month after damaging his ankle.
The back line injuries mean that Matthew Watkins and Jon Pritchard will play at centre with Ben Breeze and Matt Mostyn figuring on the wings. Gough has recovered from the back injury that forced him to miss the game at Twickenham last weekend, while Voyle has returned from New Zealand where
his wife recently gave birth to their second child. Powell injured his right hand in the Wales Under 21 triumph over England at Newbury last Friday night, but he has been passed fit to play.
Further good news for Newport is that Powell, the most exciting young forward in Wales, has signed a new deal with the club that will keep him at Rodney Parade until 2005.Despite going into the quarter-final as the holders of the Principality Cup, Newport realise the enormity of the task facing them at the Arms Park.
"We are all aware of Cardiff's incredible record at home. In 72 games since December 1997 they have won 68 and drawn one," said McCreedy.
"They have won 10 of our last 13 meetings and we have to go back to 25 November, 1995 for our last win in the Welsh capital. That said, we will be travelling full of confidence and with a squad of players capable of winning the game."
As well as a capable squad of players, Newport will also have an army of 4,000+ black and amber fans. The club sold more than 3,000 tickets for the inter-city Good Friday clash by Monday and more are expected to turn up on the night.
"The battle off the field is going to be as hot as the one on it. The Newport fans have become a huge part of the club's push for success and their vocal backing will play a huge part on the night," added McCreedy.
Newport Rugby: Matt Pini; Matt Mostyn, Matthew Watkins, Jon Pritchard, Ben Breeze; Shane Howarth, Ofisa Tonu'u; Rod Snow, James Richards, Chris Anthony, Simon Raiwalui (captain), Ian Gough, Peter Buxton, Jason Forster, Andy Powell.
Replacements (from): Adrian Garvey, Ceri Jones, Paul Young, Joe Powell, Mike Voyle, Alix Popham, Hal Luscombe, Jason Strange, Dale Burn.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams looks back on the Rio Sevens success where he helped GB win silver. He believes the successful campaign is a huge boost to his Welsh squad as they prepare for another World Series, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be heading back home to take on the All Blacks next year where for him, success for 2017 is all about going to New Zealand and winning a Test Series.
Last week all roads led to Eugene Cross Park where defending champions Ebbw Vale hosted this season's launch of the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie was there to capture the thoughts of Damien Hudd, captain of Ebbw Vale, and WRU Head of Performance, Geraint John.
Llandovery made it three in a row when they defeated Aberavon in the final of the National Foster's 7s at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday. On another eventful day of sevens, Newport claimed the Plate and the Dragons won the women's crown
Last week saw Cardiff welcome players from around the world for the 21st Golden Oldies Festival. The tournament features players over 35 years of age, and this year's event saw a select few represent the WRU in a 'friendly' against the Wooden Spoon.
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.