Kirby Myhill will captain Cardiff Rugby as they kick off a new era with a pre-season clash against English champions Harlequins on Saturday (KO 3.00pm).
The Blue and Blacks travel to London to take on the Gallagher Premiership winners at Twickenham Stoop, who they will also face in the upcoming Heineken Champions Cup campaign.
For the first of two Anglo-Welsh pre-season encounters - with Bath set to visit the Welsh capital next Friday - Cardiff welcome centre Garyn Smith and back row Shane Lewis-Hughes back from long-term injuries.
Centurion, Smith, has been sidelined with a knee ligament injury, suffered in the New Year’s Day match against Ospreys last season. The centre links up with fellow academy graduate Max Llewellyn in midfield.
Matthew Morgan, Aled Summerhill and Jason Harries form an experienced back three division while Jamie Hill, who made his debut during the 2020/21 season, partners Jason Tovey at half back.
Lewis-Hughes, who hasn’t featured since February due to a shoulder injury, will don the number six jersey, and is joined on the flank by openside Ellis Jenkins, who returned to action earlier this year following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Alun Lawrence slots in at number eight to complete the back row, with James Ratti and Rory Thornton combining at second row. Rhys Gill and young prop Will Davies-King slot either side of skipper Myhill in the front row.
Director of rugby, Dai Young said: “We haven’t got any of our internationals involved because it’s obviously still a little bit too early,” explained the former Wales international.
“So this gives the players that have been here since the word ‘go’ in pre-season an opportunity to put their hand up.
“They’re really excited but we’re not quite sure what side Quins will put out but I’m sure it’ll be a test for us.
“They had a great season last season and I’m sure their confidence is high right across the squad. You don’t win Championships as a team, you win it as a squad.
“So it will be a great test for us and all the running, the hard work, the preparations comes to a point where everyone just wants to get out on the field and see where we are. We’re no different.”
Summer signing, Rhys Priestland, is in-line to make his debut for the Blue and Blacks as a replacement.
An extended bench sees a number of academy players involved in the matchday squad, including Gwilym Bradley, Rhys Anstey and Ethan Lloyd. 18 year old back, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who made his debut in the Rainbow Cup campaign last season, is also included amongst the replacements.
There is also an opportunity for Cardiff RFC lock and former Wales under 20 international, Sean Moore.
Cardiff Rugby: Matthew Morgan; Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Max Llewellyn, Jason Harries; Jason Tovey, Jamie Hill; Rhys Gill, Kirby Myhill (capt.), Will Davies-King, James Ratti, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ellis Jenkins, Alun Lawrence
Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Brad Thyer, Scott Andrews, Sean Moore, Rhys Anstey, Gwilym Bradley, Olly Robinson, Sam Moore, Ethan Lloyd, Rhys Priestland, Harri Millard, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso