After making the most of a short stint at Saracens, Rhys Carré is excited for a bright future at Cardiff Blues after returning to limited training earlier this month.
The now capped Welsh international, left the Arms Park last summer to join the reigning English and European champions.
It was always his plan to learn from the London club over a two year stint before returning home but following the salary cap scandal he has made that trip after just a year.
It has certainly been a year to remember for the giant prop with an international debut, Rugby World Cup and global pandemic under his belt.
And now he is relishing a long-awaited return to action with an August 22, planned restart of the Guinness PRO14 looming upon the horizon.
He said: “I was always going to come back after two years but I’m coming back a year early. I am happy to come back.
“I just thought it was a great opportunity for me to go away and become a better player. It speaks for itself with the players and coaches they have, and how they train. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Vunipola brothers, George Kruis and Maro Itoje has made me a better player.
“But with everything that went on at the club at the back end of last year made it more inviting for me to come back.
“It will be good to get back out on the pitch with the boys. It seems like it was only yesterday I was here so I don’t think anything will have changed, it feels like I never left.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all, it has been all the more tricky for the 22-year-old. For the best part of 10 weeks, the St Josephs RFC junior was holed up alone I his London flat as lockdown descended on the UK.
Carré did what he could to stay in shape but is pleased to now be back among his teammates as a new era gets underway.
He continued: “It has been quite tough so I have been up in London in my flat so I did not have any access to any sort of equipment. I was just running around the park outside my house and just doing bodyweight exercises.
“Obviously, it was tough but we are professional athletes so we all know what to do to keep ourselves fit.
“Boredom helped as well in a way, I was stuck in my own in my flat for 10 weeks without seeing anyone. Every day I had nothing to do so I would get out and do a run or a session and kept ticking over. It hasn’t been easy but we have all come back in decent nick.
“I have missed rugby like you would not believe. It has felt like the longest three or four months ever because we have not been doing anything.
“I have been used to training four or five days a week for the last five years.”
With a World Cup and Six Nations punctuating his season at Sarries, it felt like he had never been away when he returned to the Blues fold and he is now relishing what he describes as his first real professional season.
The target? As much game time as possible and ultimately making the number one jersey his own.
He added: “The competition could drive us all on. I have grown up with the likes of Kieron Assiratti and Corey Domachowski.
It will be good to be back with them at training seeing what they have learnt and if I can help them with what I have learnt.
“This will be my first proper season as a professional. I have only played about 30 games professionally and 80 per cent of those have been off the bench.
“It is working as hard as I can this year to try and get as much as game time.
“That is what competition is for. Everyone wants that number one jersey and if I can get that shirt consistently it will show I am working hard and playing well.”