Cardiff Blues academy back row, Gwilym Bradley, is determined to follow in the footsteps of his heroes and become the latest chapter of a rich history of openside flankers to have featured for the Arms Park outfit.
The Wales under 20 international put pen to paper on an academy deal at the Welsh capital earlier this season, having been identified through the Welsh Exiles programme.
Growing up, Bradley idolised former Cardiff Blues, Wales and British & Irish Lions flanker, Sam Warburton, and he is excited at the prospect of tapping into the knowledge of current Arms Park stars such as Josh Navidi and Olly Robinson.
Speaking to The Rugby Paper, the youngster said: “I’m looking forward to training with guys like Josh Navidi and Olly Robinson and learning the technical aspects of being a top No.7.
“Growing up, Sam had to be the man I admired most. He was at the top of his game, captaining Wales and the Lions, and seeing how he operated around the field so efficiently was a massive inspiration for me.
“Then seeing him in real life, you could see how hard he’d worked to get his body into peak condition.
“Sam epitomised what professionalism was all about and what you’ve got to do to get to the top.
“He was the ultimate role model and when you’re in the U20s camp, you get to see the senior team train on the next pitch and he’s influential as a coach as well.”
After being released from the London Irish academy, following a serious wrist injury which kept him out of action for the 2018/19 campaign, Bradley turned to the books and began an economics degree at Bath University, giving him the opportunity to feature in the BUCS leagues.
He insists that the experience has benefitted him, and he’s excited to take the next steps in his career, having tasted international age grade rugby for the first time earlier this year.
Bradley added: “I was in that all the way through to the U18s and really enjoyed working with their coaches, Patrick O’Grady and Jonathan Fisher.
“But then I picked up that wrist injury and missed an entire year, after which, sadly, they dropped me, which I could understand.
“Having been exposed to that level of training and professionalism, though, it spurred me on.
“Going to Bath Uni I was just one of many younger players out to prove myself and you were back at the bottom of the ladder, but I did pretty well in the BUCS league.
“Having been involved with the Welsh Exiles from an early age, I got invited to play for Wales U19s against England and the Blues picked me up from there.
“I had a good run in the Wales U20s camp from February to mid-March, playing in four of the matches, so that was another good step up and playing in front of big crowds was great experience.”