Gethin Jenkins says the Cardiff Blues A squad and coaching team are itching to get back into competitive action, as they prepare for Saturday’s Celtic Cup opener against Leinster A.
Wales’ Capital Region welcome the defending champions to Cardiff Arms Park, and have named an exciting blend of the region’s most promising academy stars with the Indigo Group Premiership’s stand-out names.
The quality of all three Premiership clubs within the region was evident last season, with Merthyr, Cardiff and Pontypridd finishing as the top three sides in Wales.
Jenkins, who is the side’s joint head coach alongside fellow academy coach, T Rhys Thomas, has stressed the importance of having a professional environment for the campaign and hopes to see a good crowd at the Arms Park for the first game of the season.
“It’s nice to get underway. It’s been a long pre-season, where you’ve been looking forward to that first game," said the former Cardiff Blues captain.
“We’ve put a good squad together and had some good training sessions as a group and both coaches and players are really looking forward to getting back on that field and testing themselves.
“We’ve got a good mix in the squad of young players and players who are at an age where they still have an ambition to reach a higher level.
“There were some tough calls made in some positions but it’s nice to have that choice to make sometimes, compared to the position we were in at times last year.
“We’re lucky because me and Rhys Thomas can spend a lot of time with the younger boys in the academy and it will be a big chance for them.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how the likes of Ioan Davies, Jamie Hill and Will Davies King will be able to perform at a level which is a bit higher than what they’re used to.
“The young players you put out in these games will bring an energy and an enthusiasm to play a bit of rugby, with probably a little bit less structure than the high level.
“We’ve tried to do bits and bobs in the short period of time that we’ve had the boys together and we’ll see how it goes on the weekend.
“We’ve wanted to make the environment as professional as we can and, at the end of the day, it’s Cardiff Blues A and we want these boys to experience what it’s like towards the professional level.
“They’ve really bought into it, there’s been a good energy and the boys have really enjoyed the sessions.
“We can’t wait to get out there now and perform on the Arms Park. Hopefully we can have a decent crowd at the Arms Park, as well as the families of some proud boys who are representing Blues A.”
Tom Habberfield and Sam Beard have been named co-captains for the Arms Park encounter, bringing a wealth of top level experience into the group.
Scrum half, Habberfield, represented his home region, Ospreys, on 135 occasions, while centre Beard has been involved with Dragons, Edinburgh and Canterbury.
Jenkins believes their experience and leadership is invaluable to guide the squad’s younger players.
The former Wales international said: “Both players have got great regional experience and they’re both good talkers.
“We’ve been really impressed with them in training with the way they’ve led the boys and given us input as coaches.
“They’ll lead the team, but there’s obviously other boys who will come on from the bench and give us further experience as well.”
Tickets are available NOW for all of Cardiff Blues A's home Celtic Cup fixtures. Click HERE to purchase.
Entry for Cardiff Blues A home fixtures are included in 2019/20 Season Membership packages. For more information about how to gain entry, please click HERE