A host of star names will make their first appearances for Cardiff in 11 weeks when they line up against Edinburgh in the Scottish capital on Saturday afternoon (3pm).
The likes of Rhys Priestland, Owen Lane, Rhys Carré, Lloyd Williams, Jarrod Evans, Matthew Morgan, Dmitri Arhip and skipper Josh Turnbull haven’t played for the region since the game against Dragons on October 23.
Following that outing, they were caught up in the troubled trip to South Africa, amid extended stays in Covid quarantine hotels in Cape Town and then London which saw them miss the Champions Cup games against Toulouse and Harlequins.
They were unable to return to action in the festive derbies, with the fixtures against the Scarlets and the Dragons being called off due to Covid cases.
But now they are finally on course to get back on the field in the United Rugby Championship clash at the DAM Health Stadium, which is alongside Murrayfield.
Priestland gets the nod over Jarrod Evans as the starting No 10, with the versatile James Botham packing down at No 8, with Turnbull and Will Boyde flanking him.
Fit-again winger Aled Summerhill is set for his first outing of the season off the bench, which also features the likes of Ellis Jenkins and Tomos Williams, along with fly-half Evans.
Director of rugby Dai Young, said: “I’ve got my fingers crossed until we kick off in this crazy world that we’re in.
“We’ve been more or less ready at this point of the week for three of four games now, but they’ve gone awry.
“We’re really looking forward to getting a game and we’re pretty hopeful it’ll happen this week.
“Everyone are keeping their fingers crossed that we get across the white line and get a game going.
“We’re looking forward to it because we have a lot of boys who haven’t played for a long time now.
“For some of these players, the last game they played was against Dragons so everyone is excited to get out and play.”
He added: “I was really pleased with the squad that played in Europe while we were away. Players like Seb Davies and James Botham had to take much more of a leadership role.
“In that period, if anything, they had to mature because when we’re all here there’s more senior guys to lead.
“It definitely helped a number of players, and they’re two prime examples.
“They’ve taken confidence from that and I’d like to think it brought us a bit closer together.
“It was a difficult period but we stuck together and hopefully we’ve come out as a closer unit.”
Edinburgh, who have named a side stacked with Scotland stars such as Hamish Watson. Stuart McInally, Jamie Ritchie, WP Nel and skipper Grant Gilchrist, lie second in the URC table, just a point behind leaders Leinster.
Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Emiliano Boffelli, Mark Bennett, James Lang, Ramiro Moyano; Blair Kinghorn, Ben Vellacott; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Jamie Hodgson, Grant Gilchrist (capt), Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson.
Replacements: Dave Cherry, Boan Venter, Luan de Bruin, Glen Young, Nick Haining, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, Chris Dean.
Cardiff: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harries; Rhys Priestland, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Carré, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull (capt), Will Boyde, James Botham
Replacements : Liam Belcher, Corey Domachowski, Will Davies-King, James Ratti, Ellis Jenkins, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Aled Summerhill.
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