Ellis Jenkins will captain Cardiff Blues as the Guinness PRO12 season kicks-off at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park against Edinburgh on Saturday (7.35pm).
Head coach Danny Wilson has named a strong squad containing 14 full internationals.
Wales’ Capital Region completed the double over the Scottish club last season and recorded an 80 per cent success rate at home, but they expect a full-blooded challenge.
Wilson said: “It’s a home game and we won 80 per cent of our home games last year. We will be looking to start this season with a good performance which will also hopefully lead to a win.
“But Edinburgh have recruited well, they have a very big pack of forwards and are one of the sides in this league that play a set-piece dominant style of rugby.
“It will be a tough first game but because it’s at home and with the form we had last year hopefully we will start with a bang.”
Rhys Gill, Kirby Myhill and Taufa’ao Filise make up an experienced front-row, while George Earle and Macauley Cook packed down in the second-row with Josh Navidi and Nick Williams join Jenkins in the back-row.
In the backs Steve Shingler continues at fly-half, Blaine Scully comes onto the wing and Dan Fish is given the nod at full-back.
A host of Wales internationals are also named on the replacements bench, including club captain Gethin Jenkins.
Wilson added: “Our international players have only been back for a short period of time so there’s a responsibility to make sure they are not just going from game to a break and back into a game.
“We’ve tried to make sure every player has had a window of pre-season.”
Cardiff Blues: 15 -Dan Fish; 14 – Blaine Scully, 13 – Cory Allen, 12 – Rey Lee-Lo, 11 – Tom James; 10 – Steve Shingler, 9 – Tomos Williams; 1 – Rhys Gill, 2 – Kirby Myhill, 3 – Taufa’ao Filise, 4 – George Earle, 5 – Macauley Cook, 6 – Josh Navidi, 7 – Ellis Jenkins (capt), 8 – Nick Williams.
Replacements: 16 – Kristian Dacey, 17 – Gethin Jenkins, 18 – Scott Andrews, 19 – James Down, 20 – Cam Dolan, 21 – Lewis Jones, 22 – Gareth Anscombe, 23 – Matthew Morgan
3 Sep 2016
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12 May 2017