Cardiff Blues have made nine changes for their return to Guinness PRO14 action against Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Following two rounds of European action, John Mulvihill’s men switch their attention back to the Championship and will be looking to build upon three consecutive wins in the competition.
Injuries and international duties have forced some changes but Mulvihill has picked a mobile side to combat the South African outfit’s running threat.
In the pack, Brad Thyer, Ethan Lewis and Scott Andrews form a new-look front-row, Rory Thornton comes into the second-row and Seb Davies makes his long-awaited return to action at number eight.
Steve Shingler makes his first appearance of the season, partnering Lloyd Williams at half-back, while Garyn Smith and Matthew Morgan return to the starting line-up.
Mulvihill said: “This is a crucial game for us and the Cheetahs have been waiting for this with three weeks without games to prepare.
“They play a very fast game and will attack from anywhere but they are also well-organised so we will have to be on our game.
“We’ve gone for a fast, running team to cope with the Cheetahs threats and the impact of playing at altitude at Bloemfontein, with a strong bench to come on.
“We are lucky to have a player of Steve Shingler’s quality to step into fly-half, he now has an opportunity to stake a claim after waiting patiently and it is great to welcome Seb Davies back after injury.
“We’ve had a good journey to South Africa and have prepared well in Cape Town so were looking forward to the game and if we can get something out of this, and next week against Zebre at the Arms Park, we can start moving up the table.”
Liam Belcher, who returned to Cardiff Blues in the summer following a season-long stint at the Dragons, Lewis Jones and Dan Fish are all in line for their first appearances of the campaign from the bench.
Fans’ favourite Fish will provide fly-half cover for Shingler, having impressed in the same role for Cardiff Blues A in the Celtic Cup.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Jason Harries, Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo, Aled Summerhill; Steve Shingler, Lloyd Williams (capt); Brad Thyer, Ethan Lewis, Scott Andrews, George Earle, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Seb Davies
Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Gill, Keiron Assiratti, Samu Manoa, Nick Williams, Lewis Jones, Dan Fish, Willis Halaholo