Cardiff Blues A have made five changes ahead of the final Celtic Cup pool stage clash against Ospreys Development at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday (KO 2.30pm)
Richie Rees’ side remain in contention for a place in the final, and a win could see them leapfrog pool leaders Scarlets A, who take on Dragons A at Church Bank.
Four of the changes are made in the backline, with Corey Howells set to make his debut in the competition. The young wing has impressed for Pontypridd in recent weeks, scoring three tries in two Principality Premiership games.
Elsewhere, Max Llewellyn is recalled into the centre, while Steven Shingler and Jamie Hill make up a new-look half back partnership.
The only change in the pack sees youngster Will Davies King called into the tighthead spot, replacing Keiron Assiratti, joining Welsh international, Gethin Jenkins, and Liam Belcher in the front row.
With all to play for heading into the final round of action, Rees believes the intensity and competitiveness of the derby will be a learning curve for the squad’s younger players.
“This is proper competitive rugby, and nothing can replicate that for intensity,” said Rees.
“The boys head into the game knowing what they need to do in order to stand a chance to play again next week. We have to concentrate on what we can control in these games, and hopefully results elsewhere will go our way.
“The final would be a bonus. Whatever happens on Saturday, our focus over these block of games has been on seeing improvement from week-to-week.”
“We’ve seen that improvement since the heavy defeat to Leinster, and we’re confident the boys can display that once again this week.
“For some, it is an opportunity to make an impression at this level, and the likes of Corey Howells, Jamie Hill and Ben Jones deserve that chance after impressing for Pontypridd recently.
“The Ospreys will be a little bit more familiar that the Irish opposition we’ve faced over the last few weeks, but that’s set a different challenge in itself.
“We’re playing at home, so there’s a bit of pride at stake as well and we want to put in a good outing. At the end of the day, it’s a derby and the boys will have extra motivation for that.”
Ben Jones returns on the bench, having also featured for Pontypridd in recent weeks, while Wales under-18 and Cardiff University hooker, Cameron Lewis is set to make his Cardiff Blues A debut.
Cardiff Blues A: Dan Fish; Corey Howells, Cam Lewis, Max Llewellyn, Harri Millard; Steven Shingler, Jamie Hill; Gethin Jenkins, Liam Belcher, Will Davies King, Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Down, Sion Bennett, Sion Edwards, Alun Lawrence (capt)
Replacements: Cameron Lewis, Rhys Carré, Ben Warren, Callum Bradbury, Ioan Rhys Davies, Dane Blacker, Ben Jones, Ioan Davies