Blaine Scully will return to Welford Road to captain Cardiff Blues as they take on Leicester Tigers in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday (KO 3.00pm)
The USA international, who links-up with the national squad following this weekend’s action, is named in the back three, alongside Corey Howells and Rhun Williams, for the encounter.
Another former Tiger, Jack Roberts, will make his third Cardiff Blues appearance of the season in the centre, combining with Aled Summerhill, while Lewis Jones partners Steven Shingler at half back.
Corey Domachowski, Kirby Myhill and Anton Peikrishvili start in the front-row, with Ben Murphy and James Down packing down at lock.
Macauley Cook is joined by youngsters Jim Botham and Alun Lawrence in the back row.
Richard Hodges, who takes charge of the Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign, believes the opportunity to stake a claim for a place in Danny Wilson’s side for upcoming PRO14 games has given his players an extra boost ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“You’ve also got boys who sat on the bench recently, were travelling reserves or been on the fringes who need some rugby,” said Hodges
“We’ve got boys like Steven Shingler, Kirby Myhill, Jack Roberts and Blaine Scully in there and we’ve expected our leadership group to drive the standards up both on and off the field and they’ve been excellent in doing that this week.
“I’m hoping we’ll get two really competitive sides who will go hammer and tongs at each other for 80 minutes.
“We’ve got a good mixture out there of youth and experience, we’ve trained particularly well this week and got intensity into two training days.
“You lose six or seven to Wales, you have six or seven who have to come in and replace those guys.
“The question to this group is who those six or seven guys are going to be.”
Front row players Ethan Lewis and Keiron Assiratti will look to make an impact in the set-pieces off the bench, while Ben Jones continues his comeback from injury. Neath scrum half Scott Gibson, who played for Cardiff Blues Premiership Select in the final two rounds of the British and Irish Cup, is also named as a replacement.
Cardiff Blues: Rhun Williams; Blaine Scully (C), Aled Summerhill, Jack Roberts, Corey Howells; Steven Shingler, Lewis Jones; Corey Domachowski, Kirby Myhill, Anton Peikrishvili, Ben Murphy, James Down, Macauley Cook, James Botham, Alun Lawrence
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Rhys Carre, Keiron Assiratti, Owen Lloyd, Joe Miles, Scott Gibson, Ben Jones, Max Llewellyn