Dmitri Arhip returns to the starting line-up to face the Ospreys as Cardiff Blues target a hat-trick of Guinness PRO14 Welsh derby victories over the festive period.
The prop, who recovered from a calf injury to play his part as a replacement in last week’s bonus point win over Scarlets, returns to the Liberty Stadium for the first time since his summer move to the Wales’ Capital Region.
John Mulvihill has made a total of five changes for the crucial Conference A encounter, as Arhip is joined in the front row by the returning Rhys Gill.
The final change amongst the pack sees Olly Robinson replacing George Earle, who is named on the bench, as Josh Turnbull is reinstated at lock alongside fellow Wales international, Seb Davies.
Another former Osprey, Matthew Morgan, is also reintroduced to the starting XV, taking the place of Dan Fish at full back, while Tomos Williams is given the nod at number nine.
Mulvihill is delighted to welcome Arhip back into the side, but insists this weekend could prove to be a turning point in the end-of-season standings in Conference A.
“We’ve set ourselves nicely after the win last week, but if we get another win this week, and Munster do us a favour down in Connacht, we’ll be sitting where we need to be.
“It’s then down to us and will be in our hands, as we’ll play Connacht twice and Ospreys again before the end of the season.
“There is a lot of rugby ahead for us, with nine Guinness PRO14 games to go, and if we win most of those, then we should be there.
“Dmitri [Arhip] doesn’t say a lot, but his energy around the group has been great. He’s really keen to be starting this week and getting a long overdue win for this group down in Swansea.
“It’s a big boost to get him back. You saw when he came on last week for the last 20, the scrums were rock solid and didn’t move. We can build a platform around that.
“The selection in that position each week is hard because we also have Dillon Lewis, Scott Andrews and Keiron Assiratti all fit and performing well.”
Kirby Myhill is named on the bench, and will make his 50th appearance for the region, alongside Owen Lane who makes a welcome return from injury.
Rory Thornton, who is a season-long loanee at Cardiff Blues from Ospreys, could face his parent club after being named amongst the replacements, and would make his 50th Guinness PRO14 appearance.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Garyn Smith; Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey (capt), Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Rory Thornton, Lloyd Williams, Steven Shingler, Owen Lane