Nick Williams captains Cardiff Blues as they kick-off their Guinness PRO14 campaign against Isuzu Southern Kings on Saturday in Port Elizabeth (KO 3.00pm BST).
With club captain Ellis Jenkins side-lined, Williams takes the honour in an experienced side that contains more than 800 Cardiff Blues appearances.
The Blues have spent the week preparing for the season opener in Cape Town and head coach John Mulvihill is confident his side are primed for the challenge, however he is also acutely aware of the threat the Kings pose.
He said: “With a longer than usual build-up to the season we have prepared really well for this weekend and are really looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“We have had a good look at the Kings and they’ve warmed up with games against Namibia and Georgia so they will be well prepared. They beat Glasgow and Edinburgh, drew with the Dragons and ran a lot of teams very close at home so we are well aware of how dangerous they can be.
“They play an exciting brand of rugby and can hurt you if the game is loose. We know they will come out firing on Saturday, but we have a game-plan we believe in.
“There is a lot of excitement in this group and if we can play to our potential and deliver on our game plan we can get that win, which will set our season off nicely.”
Williams joined in the back-row by Olly Robinson and Josh Turnbull, who have both also led the team on numerous occasions. Openside Robinson will mark the new campaign by making his 50th appearance for the region.
Seb Davies and Rory Thornton start in the second-row, while Dmitri Arhip, Liam Belcher and Brad Thyer pack down in the front-row.
Behind the pack, Lloyd Williams, who is fast approaching his 200th Cardiff Blues appearance partners Jarrod Evans at half-back, while Willis Halaholo and Garyn Smith partner each other in the centre.
Matthew Morgan, making his 100th appearance in the Guinness PRO14, Jason Harries and Aled Summerhill make up an experienced back-three.
Will Boyde is named among the replacements and is in line for his competitive debut for Wales’ Capital Region following his summer move from the Scarlets.
Mulvihill added: “Our medical and strength and conditioning teams have done a brilliant job and we have a pretty good bill of health with only Ellis Jenkins and Rhun Williams on the injury list.
“There is good competition for places, which is driving standards and now we are just looking forward to getting out there and starting the season.”
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Jason Harries, Garyn Smith, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill: Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams (capt).
Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Corey Domachowski, Scott Andrews, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Will Boyde, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Harri Millard.