Sion Bennett is relishing the opportunity to make an impact during Saturday's Anglo Welsh Cup clash against Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park (KO 5.00pm)
Having enjoyed an impressive debut season at the Welsh capital, the back row forward has been restricted to appearances off the bench and playing for Cardiff RFC in the Principality Premiership so far this campaign.
The former Wales U20 international believes the competition is a perfect platform for the region’s array of talented youngsters to gain experience against top quality Aviva Premiership opposition, and for everyone to put their hands up for a place in Danny Wilson’s side for upcoming European and Guinness PRO14 fixtures.
“I am raring to go. This year I haven’t played as much, having being quite fortunate to play quite a few games at the end of last year, which went well for me. I want to keep showing what I’ve got and what I can give to the team,” said Bennett.
“Confidence is good. I think we’re expecting them to go pretty strong and the boys are looking forward to show what we’ve got against a high quality side.
“For some boys it’s a stepping stone in the sense that the quality is higher than competitions like the British and Irish Cup.
“It will be good for boys to step up and experience that intensity, physicality and skill level.
“It’s a good opportunity for young guys, but also senior players who haven’t had as much game time as they would’ve liked.
“I think if you’re worried about it, you’re probably in the wrong job. The boys are really excited and looking forward to the challenge.
“Big game this week, then we’ve got Ospreys next week in the big Welsh derby before going into Connacht.”
Bennett came off the bench during last weekend’s bonus point win over Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park, as Wilson’s side crossed for five tries to leapfrog their Italian opponents to fifth place in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14.
The forward has been encouraged by the improved performances over the past few weeks and believes the difference has been made on the training ground.
The former Wales U20 international said: “We showed some really good rugby over the last few weeks and a lot of those things came off over the weekend.
“Over the last month or so, we’ve had some really good performances. A few results haven’t gone our way but we’ve had really good results as well. We need to keep that momentum going.
“I wouldn’t say there’s been one definitive turning point. Even at the start of the season, we knew we had it in us and had a lot of work to do.
“We’re definitely playing better rugby, more entertaining rugby and that’s starting to show in the results as well.
“Shaun Edwards and Richard Hodges have made a big difference in those defence sessions. Those have been massive for us and that line speed, especially on Saturday, has been really showing for us.
“We probably lost that against the Scarlets, they probably had the better of the defence on that day and that had a big outcome on the result.”
“Training has stepped up and that’s made a difference but we’ve always known we’ve had it in us and it was a matter of putting it together.”