Cardiff Blues have named a squad containing eleven internationals to face Harlequins in the LV= Cup on Sunday.
Justin Burnell and Gareth Baber have selected a side with a blend of youth and experience as they gear up for a busy month in the RaboDirect Pro12. The Blues twenty three man squad contains Ben Blair, Gavin Evans, Tom James, Ceri Sweeney and Richie Rees in the backs, all of whom have played for their country.
In the forwards Maama Molitika, Scott Andrews, T Rhys Thomas and John Yapp all have international experience, while New Zealand internationals Casey Laulala and Xavier Rush are on the bench.
"We had to rest some of the senior players last weekend as they have played a massive part of our season so far, and helped us reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals," said Burnell.
"There's a system for us to integrate younger players with the more experienced players and that's why we've picked this side."
"We are preparing for some big PRO12 matches in February and we're trying to identify which players are closing the gap and moving forward."
"I think this competition is also important for our young Welsh talent."
"Perhaps it wasn't set up to be a development competition and maybe there is a different view between the Welsh and English teams, as obviously it's a route into the Heineken Cup for the English clubs."
"Obviously it was a disappointing result for us last week against Gloucester, however, we have to see the bigger picture, in that we are in the process of trying to develop a squad."
Meanwhile, in Harlequins team news, Ross Chisholm continues at full-back alongside Seb Stegmann and Sam Smith who replaces Tom Williams. George Lowe makes a welcome return from the injury he sustained back in November, partnering Tom Casson. Karl Dickson returns at scrum half from his long term injury, with Rory Clegg at fly-half.
Nic Mayhew starts in the front row at loose head with Rob Buchanan and Tim Fairbrother. Tomas Vallejos is picked in the second row alongside Pete Browne as Charlie Matthews starts from the bench. Chris York comes into the starting line up, replacing Luke Wallace, Tom Guest and skipper Will Skinner complete the back row.
Darryl Marfo, Will Collier and Mark Lambert provide specialist cover in the front row with Charlie Matthews and Joe Trayfoot looking to impact in the back five. Richard Bolt provides cover at scrum half with Ben Urdapilleta and Ollie Lindsay-Hague covering the backline.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 T Rhys Thomas (Capt), 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Tyrell, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Paul Tito, 20 Xavier Rush, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Casey Laulala.
Harlequins:15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Will Skinner (C), 6 Chris York, 5 Pete Browne, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 3 Tim Fairbrother 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Darryl Marfo, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.
Date: Sunday, February 5
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium