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Cardiff Blues squad desperate to build on rich Challenge Cup history - Hill

First Team News | 10th December 2020

The Cardiff Blues squad are desperate to build on their rich European Challenge Cup history, according to Cory Hill.

The Welsh international lock will captain his home region as they start their bid for a third Challenge Cup title with a trip to take on Newcastle Falcons on Friday, with Wales' Capital Region lifting the trophy in 2010 and 2018.

Dean Richards’ side have enjoyed a perfect start to the season, following their return to the Gallagher Premiership, with three wins from three.

While Hill, who was training alongside the first team squad in 2010, believes a change of competition and focus will be refreshing for the squad, he is also confident that his side can express themselves at Kingston Park under the Friday night lights.

“Newcastle have had a great start to the season and it will be a great challenge for us,” said the academy product.

“We know the challenge that lies ahead, and English teams are always decent up front and they seem to be playing nice rugby.

“It’s a new lease of life for us to step away from the league for a couple of weeks and hopefully we can play a bit ourselves and put smiles back on faces.

“Our focus has now turned to Europe and we’re planning on getting out of the group stages and seeing how far we can go in this competition.

“We’re all excited and want to put our best foot forward by getting a few wins in Europe which would set us up for the derbies.

“We spoke after training about needing to do what we can and focusing on ourselves and hopefully we can show a little bit more attacking rugby than we have done over the last few weeks.

“Obviously, the Blues have won it twice and I was in-and-around the first team during that first time, just breaking through with the seniors and training with them at the time.

“The boys went on to win it two years ago as well, so it excites everyone at the club. There’s a big history in this competition and there’s a lot of good teams in this competition.

“It’s a great competition to be involved in and we’re really excited to get it underway, and hopefully we can go away to Newcastle and start with a win.

“Whoever puts on that jersey will be itching for a game and hopefully we can play attacking rugby and put our stamp on the game.”

Hill is one of six players returning to the matchday 23 after being involved in Wales’ autumn campaign.

Despite a demanding campaign on international duty, the lock believes they can bring new energy into the camp but refuses to take their starting spots for granted.

“It’s exciting. We’ve had two good days of preparations on Tuesday and Wednesday and it’s nice to get back in.

“It’s good to go back into Europe. We had a good start of the season, before we went away to the Wales squad, and left with two wins and on a positive note.

“All the boys are excited to get back into it. It’s our job to bring back a bit of energy, and I’m sure a couple of the younger boys are on cloud nine and are really excited about what happened during the autumn campaign.

“We want to come back and give everyone a lift and you have a look over the last few weeks, we’ve blooded a few youngsters here and it’s great to see. The competition in the squad is sky high at the minute.

“The boys here put a good shift in over those eight weeks and it’s up to us to earn those jerseys back and bring energy throughout the camp.

“People expect you to come back fresh if you haven’t played in all the games, but it’s still a tough campaign. There are no easy weeks in Test rugby. 

“Whether you’re preparing the boys for the weekend or you're involved in that matchday squad, it’s still pretty intense.

“It was a good eight weeks with good learnings but I had a couple of niggles throughout which wasn’t ideal but in some weeks you’ll be a part of that Test 23 and some weeks you’re part of the non-squad, and it’s your role to prepare the team as well as possible.

“From one to 43, you’ve always got a job to do and it’s never easy and there is no such thing as a down week. 

“But now I’m excited to be back with Cardiff Blues and hopefully get 80 minutes under my belt.”