Liam Belcher says he was honoured to captain Cardiff for the first time during Friday’s friendly with Bristol Bears.
The hooker also registered on the scoresheet at Ashton Gate, but it was the hosts who claimed victory, thanks to a strong first half display.
However, with a number of youngsters enjoying first team experience against the English outfit, Belcher believes there are plenty of positives to take from the clash.
“It’s just that you’ve got to speak a little bit more, that’s all,” said the academy graduate.
“But look, I’m honoured to be captain of this club, and it’s a special occasion for me.
“It probably didn’t really sink in until the team came out and you get messages from your friends back home.
“So it’s a big occasion for me personally, but realistically I really wanted to win it. Friendly or not, you want to win and you don’t want to lose. It’s as simple as that, it’s competitiveness.
“You’ve got Ben Burnell making his first appearance, and how old is he? 19? Efan Daniel comes off the bench at 19, Teddy Williams comes on and he’s only just turned 22.
“So the average age there is 21 or 22, and that’s probably what these games are for as well. You get a lot of experience from just being part of it during the training week.
“So it will be really good for them. I know that from when I was younger, as did a lot of the older boys who are here now. It’s invaluable. Hopefully these boys will kick on from that and use it as a learning curve.”
Belcher also believed his side’s indiscipline gave Bristol attacking opportunities during the first half, but was pleased to see them adapting as the game went on.
“In the first half we let ourselves down, especially in the set piece and defending driving mauls,” added the hooker.
“But that starts with discipline. That’s something we need to look at and we spoke about it during the week. As a team, that’s hurting us and has been for the start of the season.
“Looking back during the week, we can learn from that and take a lot of ownership of it ourselves as well.
“We’ll go from there and get solutions from that. From problems, you get solutions.
“A driving line-out is a foothold into the game. As soon as you get a good driving line-out, and you have that dominance then you’ll stick to that. So if it’s working for them, I don’t blame them for going to it again and again.
“It’s something we can learn from, if we can get a dominant line-out going, which we have done in the past like against Edinburgh in the first half. We had a really good driving maul and we stuck to that.
“So now it’s about working on what we spoke about and trying to solve that.
“At half time we said that giving back-to-back penalties is a killer for any team. If you give away a penalty in their 22, then they will kick it to their 10 meters line, with the tens like they are these days.
“So we need to look at that. It’s about being smart when to chance your arm and when not to and we didn’t do that right, especially in the first half.
“Our tries were very similar from what we did to them. They piggybacked us up the field. We went through a few phases, penalty, kicked to the corner, another penalties.
“And both tries came from the set piece and two driving line-outs. Obviously the second one came from phase play afterwards and we go over from that.
“So it’s exactly what they’ve done to us in the first half, and we’ve done it back to them in the second, and that was probably the game.
“We spoke about leaving the breakdown [at half time] and only going for it if it’s really on and that made a hell of a difference.
“Our folds were better, boys got around the corner quicker, because against a team like Bristol, if you give them quick ball you can’t stop them. You can’t slow that ball down.
“After the game, we said in the huddle that when messages come on the field we need to listen to them quicker. We can’t wait until half time, when you’re trying to catch your breath and listen. We need to do it behind the posts too.”
Next up for Cardiff is a trip to South Africa, where they will take on Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls.
The academy product is confident that Friday’s clash will be good preparation for the challenge that lies ahead in Durban and Pretoria.
“We know what the South Africans are good at and it’s going to be the set piece and driving mauls especially,” explained Belcher.
“If you’re watching that game, you’re going to come for us there, and we know that. So we’ve got to sort that problem out first.
“The boys who are away with Wales won’t be joining us in South Africa. As Ellis [Jenkins] said after the game, this is basically the squad going out there, with a few boys who have been rested this week.
“We’ll take the game time we needed, which is the biggest positive, and then obviously work on the negatives.”