New Cardiff Blues captain, Ellis Jenkins, has emphasised the importance of the squad's leadership group, and insists his side will be looking to make a mark in Europe this season.
Jenkins, who was match-day captain for the Challenge Cup final win over Gloucester in May, joins Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Josh Turnbull, Nick Williams, Blaine Scully, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Garyn Smith and Owen Lane to make up the leadership group.
The 25-year-old, who co-captained Wales during the summer, alongside former Cardiff Blues team-mate Cory Hill, believes the leadership and experience within the squad is invaluable.
“I’ve captained the side a lot over the last couple of years, when boys have been away on Wales duty or when they’ve been injured. It’s something that I’ve become used to, but in this team we’ve developed a leadership group, and everything becomes group decisions. One person’s opinion won’t always be correct,” said Jenkins.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in the boys around me, and obviously I’ve still got Melon (Gethin Jenkins) here who will be in my ear as well, the same as I was for him over the last couple of years.
“We talk about things and come to decisions together, with different points-of-view, and that’s something we’ll continue to do.
“We’ve got a lot of experience within the squad, with the likes of Gethin, Blaine Scully - Captain America - and other boys who have captained Wales and captained the Blues.
“There’s a lot of experience of leadership here and our aim will be to make sure we carry on business as usual from the back end of last season.
“I won’t be trying to change the record. I just need to make sure I continue to do what I do.
“As captain, you need to have the respect from your fellow players, and you can’t do that if your performances aren’t outstanding from week-to-week in training and in games.
“As always, I’ll try to play as well as I can, train as hard as I can. Of course, I’ll have some decisions to make on the way, but I got a lot of trust in the boys around me to help with those decisions and make decisions themselves as well."
Jenkins will be part of a fierce battle for a place in the Cardiff Blues back row, with Josh Navidi, Nick Williams and Olly Robinson impressing last season, while American international, Samu Manoa, is also set to arrive at Cardiff Arms Park ahead of the new campaign.
The Welsh international admits the captaincy does not give him a guaranteed starting spot and insists he must earn his starting spot like everyone else.
Jenkins said: “Navs [Josh Navidi] has been our best player for years, and when he got injured in the Challenge Cup final last year, and Olly [Robinson] came on and had man of the match.
“That’s the challenge here, and being captain you have to make sure, first and foremost, that your performances are excellent and that will warrant you getting picked.
"Even if you are captain, I’ve always said, if someone is playing better then they deserve to play. There are plenty of other boys who could step in as match-day captains.
“It’s good for us to have that competition. I think it showed last year in our performances, the pressure we’ve put on each other and what we were learning from each other in training. It spurred us on to be better.
“We’ve been in the Challenge Cup for the last few years and this will be our first season back in the Champions Cup for a while.
“Obviously, the quality of teams overall will go up but, like we’ve said in team meetings, we’re not here to make the numbers up. We’re not happy with just qualifying. That’s done, but now we’re looking forward to having a good run at it in both the league and in Europe.
“We’re not going into the games and being happy to be there. We’ll be looking to perform as well as we can and try to chase those results.”
Ellis was speaking exclusively on the latest episode of Cardiff Blues Uncovered. For an exclusive early access to each episode, make sure you're signed up to RE:CAP!