Cardiff Blues captain Gethin Jenkins returns to the starting line-up as Danny Wilson makes four changes for the Guinness PRO12 clash with Munster on Friday (7.35pm).
The Wales record cap-holder came off the bench in last week’s bonus-point win over Edinburgh and now starts in the place of Rhys Gill.
He is just one of four Wales internationals that Wilson has recalled for the trip to Irish Independent Park with Alex Cuthbert, Gareth Anscombe and Kristian Dacey the others.
A further Wales trio– Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton and Lloyd Williams – are also set for their first appearances of the season after being named among the replacements.
With their availability, and several impressive individual performances against Edinburgh, selection was not straightforward but that is exactly what Wilson wants.
The Cardiff Blues head coach said: “We have some players back available for selection including a few internationals.
“We sat round a table as a coaching group and we got the selection headache we wanted in terms of the recruitment we have done.
“We had some really tough decisions to make. Ultimately some of those decisions are based around winning a game of rugby and secondly making sure we develop a squad.
“I feel we have two players in every position of real quality, if we can keep everyone fit then selection becomes difficult which is what we want.
“If you look at the teams that win things, they do it off the back of a squad. We didn’t have that last year but are beginning to grow that.
“It’s a tough, tough league. We believe we are on the right track to building something but it’s still in that building phase and it will be for a while. We’ve had one week at home but know we have a huge challenge on Friday night.”
A 37-28 victory at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in round 12 last season ended a run of five successive Munster victories in this fixture but the Blues have an impressive record in Cork.
They are the only visiting team to have won at Irish Independent Park on three occasions but Wilson is under no illusions of how difficult a prospect it will be.
Wilson said: “Munster showed how clinical they are playing their game against the Scarlets. They play a very abrasive, confrontational style both in attack and defence, there’s a lot around their set-piece and it is effective for them.
“We feel we have an approach which will suit the opposition we are playing but ultimately it’s about us being able to execute that against a good, pressure defence.
“We have to get it right mentally and physically. It’s a good challenge and we go there as underdogs but underdogs on the back of a good performance and result.
“We took them really close last season, we had a decent day, played some expansive rugby and tested them but came away with a narrow loss and learnt lessons from that.”
Cardiff Blues: 15 – D Fish; 14 – A Cuthbert, 13 – C Allen, 12 – R Lee-Lo, 11 – T James; 10 – G Anscombe, 9 – T Williams; 1 – G Jenkins (capt), 2 – K Dacey; 3 – T Filise, 4 – G Earle, 5 – M Cook, 6 – J Navidi, 7 – E Jenkins, 8 – N Williams.
Replacements: 16 – M Rees, 17 – R Gill, 18 – S Andrews, 19 – J Turnbull, 20 – S Warburton, 21 – L Williams, 22 – S Shingler, 23 – M Morgan
8 Sep 2016
6 Sep 2016
16 Aug 2017
12 Aug 2017