Dillon Lewis will make his first Cardiff Blues appearance of the season as John Mulvihill’s side travel to Welford Road for a crucial Challenge Cup Pool 5 encounter against Leicester Tigers on Sunday.
The prop, who featured in all of Wales’ Rugby World Cup matches in Japan, has recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place at tighthead prop. Lewis also put pen to paper on a new Cardiff Blues contract earlier this week.
Cardiff Blues head to the Midlands sitting in second place in Pool 5, and are currently five points behind the Gallagher Premiership outfit, with two rounds of European action to be played.
There is a total of eight changes made to the line-up, with Lloyd Williams and Jason Tovey combining in a new-look half back partnership.
Josh Adams makes a switch to outside centre as Matthew Morgan - the tournament leader for meters made (304) - and Jason Harries are introduced into the back three.
Corey Domachowski joins Lewis in the front row, making his first start since the reverse fixture in November.
Filo Paulo and Josh Turnbull continue their partnership in the boiler room, but two changes are made in the back row as Shane Lewis-Hughes and Seb Davies return to the starting XV.
Head coach, Mulvihill, said: “We travel to Welford Road with a pretty exciting team, and a lot of boys will be going out there with a point to prove.
“We’ve had a fairly settled side over the festive derbies, so this is an opportunity for those coming in to put their hands up, and it will be a good challenge against a competitive Leicester side.
“We’re delighted to welcome Dillon and Dmitri back into the matchday squad. Bubba [Scott Andrews] and Keiron Assiratti have stepped up really well in their absence, but we need a competitive depth of players in all positions as we head into the second half of the season.
“Josh will have a run-out at 13, and he’ll give us a different option in that position. He has slotted in well in that position during training, and is on a good run of form so I’m looking forward to see what he can offer.
“We’ve made some big improvements in recent weeks and we’re looking forward to the contest this week. It’s a must-win for us and heading into these two weeks in Europe, a lot of teams sit on similar amount of points.
“As I said, it’s a must-win for us and hopefully we can qualify for the quarter final in the final round of the pool stage.
“You can probably read too much into what other teams can do and the permutations heading into these games.
“The basic for us is that if we win both games then we’ll qualify. We must win this week and then Calvisano will take care of itself as it will be a massive game to play for and the boys will be up for it.
“Leicester have been really good over the last two weeks. When you bring the quality of their international players back into the side, and they get a run to play together of a long period of time, you’ll get some good results.”
Mulvihill has opted to go for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench, with Dmitri Arhip set to return to action for the first time since October.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Jason Harries, Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Hallam Amos; Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Dillon Lewis, Filo Paulo, Josh Turnbull, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Josh Navidi (capt.), Seb Davies
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Brad Thyer, Dmitri Arhip, James Ratti, Will Boyde, Olly Robinson, Tomos Williams, Ben Thomas