2008 All-Ireland minor winning captain Tom Breen will start for Kilkenny when they launch their Allianz Hurling League title defence away to Galway tomorrow.
The 22-year-old Breen, an impressive performer in recent Walsh Cup outings, will line out at right corner forward alongside Richie Hogan and Aidan Fogarty.
Manager Brian Cody's selected team includes eight starters from last September's All-Ireland SHC final replay win over Galway, among them defenders Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh and Kieran Joyce.
For the trip to Pearse Stadium (throw-in 2pm), Cody has rested a number of senior players and the Cats are also dealing with a considerable injury list.
Henry Shefflin (broken foot/ligament damage), Michael Rice (finger), TJ Reid (fractured kneecap), Cillian Buckley (hip), Richie Doyle (hip) and Walter Walsh (tendonitis) and are all currently ruled out.
With David Herity and Brian Hogan both benched, Glenmore's Eoin Murphy gets a chance to impress in goal and Conor Fogarty from Erin's Own steps up at left half-back.
Clara clubman Lester Ryan will partner Richie Power in midfield with wing forward Colin Fennelly from county champions Ballyhale Shamrocks captaining the Cats alongside his older brother Michael.
Speaking to the Kilkenny People ahead of the Division 1A opener, Cody said: "It is a fierce tough opening to the league. We have Galway away first. Then we have Tipperary away. It will be an early learning process for us.
"The run of games adds spice to the challenge. Obviously, we had some great matches with Galway last year and we are straight back into it again this year. That is going to be very, very interesting.
"Our ambition every year is to do as well as we possibly can - and also to have a look at the strength of our panel - during the league.
"If you stand still, you will disappear. In reality, that is the way things work. We try not to stand still. The team evolves, and has to evolve. Where it goes this year, we will find out."
KILKENNY (NHL v Galway): Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell; Tommy Walsh, Kieran Joyce, Conor Fogarty; Lester Ryan, Richie Power; Colin Fennelly (capt), Michael Fennelly, Matthew Ruth; Tom Breen, Richie Hogan, Aidan Fogarty.
Subs: David Herity, Brian Hogan, Paddy Hogan, Eoin Larkin, Mark Kelly, Mark Bergin, Willie Phelan, Joe Brennan, Tomas Keogh, Padraig Walsh.