Northampton Saints Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says tonight's game against the Ospreys is an important stepping stone for the his squad this season. (KO 7.45pm)
The Saints head to the Liberty Stadium for the opening match in the 2009/10 LV= Cup just five days after their Guinness Premiership trip to Leicester. Nevertheless Mallinder has handed a first start of the season to just four players - Mark Hopley, Jon Vickers, Joe Gray and Alan Dickens, who also captains the side.
"Inevitably with such a quick turnaround after a very physical game against Leicester some players have needed a rest," Mallinder said.
"But that in turn presents opportunities for other players to shine. Last season the Anglo-Welsh Cup proved to be a springboard for several players, such as Courtney Lawes and Stephen Myler, who went on to be regulars in the Guinness Premiership and in Europe.
"We are taking a squad to the Liberty Stadium that has worked hard this week and that wants to achieve a positive result and get us off to a good start in the LV= Cup."
Northampton Saints:15 Ben Foden 14 Chris Ashton 13 Joe Ansbro 12 Jon Clarke 11 Chris Mayor 10 Stephen Myler 9 Alan Dickens (capt);1 Regardt Dreyer 2 Joe Gray 3 Jon Vickers 4 James Cannon 5 Christian Day 6 Mark Easter 7 Scott Gray 8 Mark Hopley
Replacements:16 Brett Sharman 17 Alex Waller 18 Adam Parkins* 19 Owen Giles 20 James Ingle 21 John Brake 22 Barry Everitt 23 Grant Pointer
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.