Kristian Dacey insists his experience with the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand will be a big boost for him ahead of the 2017/18 season with Cardiff Blues.
Dacey was called up during the Lions’ tour as cover, alongside fellow Welshmen Gareth Davies, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill and Scotland’s Allan Dell and Finn Russell.
The hooker, who was named 2016/17 Cardiff Blues Fans’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season, said it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down, and believes it was a great experience to work alongside established coaches such as Steve Borthwick.
“For me, it was overwhelming to be there and in the presence of such outstanding players and coaches. It’s something I can use going forward with the Blues,” said Dacey.
“I know I didn’t get any game time, but the experienced I gained was invaluable. I have no regrets at all. It’s been massive for me and my career.
“I know a lot of people have slagged it off, but that doesn’t bother me. You will always get people that don’t like you.
“For all those people saying ‘who is he’, I have had other people saying congratulations.
“Everyone has got their own opinion and I can see where some people are coming from. I didn’t play a game in the Six Nations and I’ve only started once for Wales.
“People might think other boys are better than me and that’s fair enough. That’s their opinion. But it’s something I couldn’t turn down.
“It was absolutely fantastic being in camp with the boys and working with the coaches.
“Steve Borthwick has got his own ways of teaching throwing in. The method he uses is standing on a ladder while you throw to him. That’s something I’d not thought of. There were little things like that which you pick up along the way.”
Dacey and his international team-mates were given the news of the call-up following their win over Tonga at Eden Park.
The hooker, who will return from New Zealand today, admits the call-up came as a big shock, having initially aimed to establish himself in the Wales team ahead of the summer tour.
“It was in the cap presentation in the evening. Robin McBryde told the four players they had been called up,” said the 27-year-old.
“It was such a shock and so much more than I had expected.
“My personal aim was to get on the Wales tour and get a start. I did that and then I got the Lions on the back of it.
“It was quite nerve racking. It was like the first day at school, with new faces and new coaches.
“I owe a massive thanks to my wife. She was brilliant, looking after our boy.
“She said there was no question about it, I had to go with the Lions and that it was one of those things I couldn’t turn down.
“She deserves a holiday and we are going to book one when I get back.”