Gethin Jenkins will hand Wales an autumn boost with his Cardiff Blues return tonight (Fri).
British Lion Jenkins is set to lead the Blues against Sale Sharks in the Heineken Cup tie for his first appearance of the season following shoulder surgery.
The Blues have been rocked by injury and illness with regular skipper Paul Tito, Martyn Williams and Xavier Rush all ruled out of the Pool Five clash at Edgeley Park.
Now Dai Young's men are banking on powerhouse loosehead prop Jenkins to keep their European hopes on track against the Guinness Premiership outfit.
Young said: "It's a massive boost for us. We didn't want to rush Gethin back but he has come through all our training sessions over the last two weeks.
"This was always the game he had targeted but it's great to have him back. And with Paul, Martyn and Xavier out, who better to lead the side from the front.
"Gethin has international captaincy experience and I'm sure he would be on the shortlist for the Wales job should that change. He's highly thought of amongst the players and he was an obvious choice."
Wales coach Warren Gatland will be delighted with the comeback of the double Grand Slam winner with fellow prop Adam Jones already out of the autumn series, which starts against New Zealand on November 7.
And Gatland has been given another boost by the return to form of Wales and Lions wing Leigh Halfpenny who grabbed the match-winner against Harlequins last weekend.
Young added: "I was pleased to see Leigh looking dangerous and scoring tries again because by his own admission, with niggling injuries, he's not been playing the way he can.
"I suppose form is temporary and class is permanent but he's been a different player this week. His confidence is back and he's flying again.
"Although we have players missing, I've still got confidence in this team. We will have to start well and take our chances as any away win in the Heineken Cup is worth its weight in gold."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.