Wales full-back Kevin Morgan admits he did not expect to be selected to face Italy in their penultimate RBS Six Nations match in Rome on Saturday.
Morgan has made a remarkable comeback from a broken jaw
Morgan, 30, broke his jaw against Scotland on 10 February and was not expected to be fit until the final game of the campaign against England.
"Considering the initial injury I am slightly surprised," said Morgan.
"There was a slight chance I could be back, but I had to heal well and hope the operation went well."
Morgan's inclusion in place of Lee Byrne is the only change to the side that lost 32-21 to France in Paris.
Former captain Gareth Thomas has been forced to make do with a place on the bench after returning from a four-week ban.
And Morgan told BBC Wales Sport: "I thought he had a chance of making the team so I'm thankful I've been selected for the game.
Italy are good in the tight and play a strong, forward orientated game so we can't get sucked into that
Wales full-back Kevin Morgan
"But he's there waiting in the wings so I've got to make sure I perform well."
Morgan has had two wisdom teeth removed and a plate inserted to repair the fracture to his jaw.
He has only returned to full contact training this week, but has been assured his jaw will stand up to the physical rigours of international rugby.
"There is always a chance I could re-injure it but I've got a plate holding it together and it has healed really well over the last two weeks," he said.
"The surgeon has said it will take exactly the same blow to my chin to cause the same injury so I'll just soldier on."
Morgan's return means Wales coach Gareth Jenkins is able to field what many would consider to be his strongest back division for the first time in this season's campaign.
Man-for-man, Wales would appear to have a significant advantage behind the scrum, but Morgan says they will not be taking too many risks in the opening stages against the usually conservative Italians.
"We'll have to be cautious about how we play in the first half-hour but we still need to look to play an open game," said Morgan.
"Italy are good in the tight and play a strong, forward orientated game. We can't get sucked into that.
"It's vitally important we do well in the first half-hour. If we can edge ahead and get some points on the board, the game will have to open up then."