Cardiff Blues welcomed six new faces to the region this summer and it's been an intense few weeks for the new recruits who were thrown straight into a gruelling conditioning programme.
Front row forward Andy Kyriacou began his career with Sale and Leeds, before spending five seasons at Saracens after signing in 2004, before moving on to Ulster.
Speaking at the Arms Park, the hooker, who has representative honours at U21 level for England but was called into the Ireland A squad for the game against Tonga in November 2009, said,
“I’ve been here for three or four weeks now and they’ve been really working us hard, which has been great.”
“The conditioners have been putting us through it and everyone is buying into it.”
“It’s been mostly conditioning until up to now but we’ve started to do a bit of skills also which has been good.”
“We’re all trying to get the best results we can.”
“The facilities here are incredible, absolutely brilliant.”
“They cater for us 100%.”
“Everything is here for us with regards to strength, conditioning and recovery with ice baths and massages so there’s no excuses not to train.”
Reflecting on why he chose to join the Blues, Kyriacou added,
“Earlier in the year me and the wife discussed what we wanted to do next.”
“The opportunity to join Cardiff Blues came up and I grabbed it with both hands.”
“I’m just looking to fit into the team and do my best to get the results for the team.”
“We’ve set ourselves goals within Europe and the RaboDirect and we are focused on that.”
The latest player to sign was young scrum half Rob Lewis, who started his career at the Dragons where he came through the Academy system before going on to make 17 appearances for the senior side including four Heineken Cup matches.
Lewis represented Wales at Under 18, 19 and 20 age grade and was the top try scorer in the Wales Under 19 Grand Slam side in 2006.He joins from London Welsh where he made 80 appearances and was an integral part of the team that were promoted to the Premiership.
Outside half, Jason Tovey, spent five years at the Dragons having spent two years with the Dragons Academy. He played a full season for Newport RFC at full back at the age of seventeen and was then moved to fly half.
Tovey made his debut for Newport Gwent Dragons against the Ospreys in a Magners League in April 2008 and in February 2009 became the first Dragons player to score a hat-trick of tries in an official match, scoring 23 of the 26 points in the win over Ulster at Rodney Parade.
The third exciting young Welsh player to join the region is second row forward, Lou Reed. He played for Rhondda Schools before joining the Pontypridd Academy and playing for the Celtic Warriors. He then went to join the Scarlets where he made 109 appearances in the second row.
In June 2011 he was named the Wales national rugby union team 45 man training squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and made his full international debut for Wales versus Scotland on 12 February 2012 as a second half replacement.
Joining Reed in the pack will be blindside flanker, Robin Copeland, a former Leinster Academy and St Mary’s college player joined from Rotherham Titans where he scored 11 tries in 20 games.
Prop forward, Benoit Bourrust, joined the Blues from French Top 14 side Perpignan having previously played for Sale Sharks and Auch.
The prop forward has played 55 games in the Top 14 as well as 8 Heineken Cup game and 6 Amlin Cup games.
Prop forward, Campese Ma’afu is set to link up with the Blues from West Harbour Pirates in Sydney, Australia in late July.
The Fijian international has won six caps and featured against Wales in November 2010 when the match finished in a 16-16 draw.