James Botham insists he refuses to take his foot off the gas as he bids to keep progressing in a Cardiff jersey.
The versatile back row forward was crowned Cardiff’s Players’ Player of the Season last season, and picked up where he left off with an impressive outing in the win over Munster last week.
Botham continues in the number six jersey for this evening’s trip to Glasgow but, as a member of a highly competitive back row division at the club, he knows that he must maintain his performance levels in order to keep hold of his spot.
“The most important thing for me has always been about being on the field and playing. Whether I’m wearing six, seven or eight, it doesn’t matter too much as long as I’m out there having opportunities to hopefully progress even further,” said the academy product.
“It doesn’t fuss me too much. I enjoy playing six, where I’m more involved in the line-outs etcetera, while at seven you’re out a bit more and eight involved more carrying.
“It depends on the game and where you’ll be suited to.
“But as a player, there’s always scope to progress and get better. I know there’s probably boys who have played for the Lions, which is something they always wanted to do, but they’re still working hard to get better. That’s the way you have to do it.
“As soon as you switch off or let your foot off the gas a bit, then you’ll have others coming through who will want to prove themselves and do exactly what you wanted to do.
“It’s still early doors, and I just need to take every game as it comes and keep progressing.
“The first game was about getting out there and getting rid of some of the cobwebs, but I was happy with how I went. There are always things you wished you’d done a bit better or done slightly different but overall I was happy.
“It’s just a case now of doing all I can to keep the shirt whenever I get the opportunity to play.”
There were plenty of contenders for last week’s Player of the Match award, but it was debutant Taulupe Faletau who took the medal and Botham believes he can learn a lot from playing alongside the Wales and Lions number eight.
He added: “It was a great way to start the season. To play with the quality and calibre of those boys, and playing with Toby, was great.
“Like I say, you learn a lot from that and I’m sure other people would learn a lot from that experience too.
“In my eyes we all contributed and helped each other out quite a bit.
“But obviously Toby is someone who can do absolutely everything - from jackaling and tackling to even the chip kicks through and the chasing. He does absolutely everything.
“He’s an inspiration for young kids to watch and even for us players who are still playing with him.
“So yes, you’re always learning and I think he probably still is as well. But god, you can learn a lot from him. He’s amazing.”
The Welsh international is also pleased to head to Scotstoun on a winning note, but refuses to under-estimate Glasgow following their defeat to Benetton last week.
Botham explained: “Especially considering the way we ended last season, there was a lot of pressure going into the Munster game for us. But everyone fronted up well.
“Pre-season has been great so it was a great way to start the season and top everything off.
“As for Glasgow, it’s the first game of the season, and I don’t think you can look into that too much.
“They may have struggled last week but that might just be down to a bit of rust and like any other team they can turn up the next day.
“It’s important that we just focus on ourselves and hopefully it’s enough. You can’t afford to underestimate anyone early on in the season.”