Lock forward Jarrad Hoeata is determined to make up for lost time after returning to the starting line-up at Cardiff Blues - but believes his enforced absence means he will be firing on full cylinders the rest of the campaign.
Hoeata returned to action last weekend against Edinburgh after serving a ban for his red card against Leinster.
The New Zealand international was in the thick of the action as Cardiff Blues battled to a 21-15 win over Edinburgh Rugby in the Guinness PRO12.
The 31-year-old will now line up alongside Lou Reed in the second row against Connacht and he is keen to make a big impression once more at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
“Obviously it was very disappointing to be out, but in hindsight I kind of feel like it was a bit of a blessing in disguise,” he said.
“I had come from a full Super Rugby season, straight on the plane and straight into the mix over here.
“I got here and it was the week of the first game. So it has been good to step back and get my body right.
“I’ve been able to go away for six weeks and really work my butt off with the trainers over that time and got myself in a lot better shape than when I turned up.
“I did a lot of one-on-one work, gym work, conditioning and stuff like that. It has really benefited me, body and mind.
“I felt like in the game on the weekend I really contributed to the team, whereas before I wasn’t playing quite to the standard I wanted to,” he added.
“I played 80 minutes and felt so much better than I did when I first got here. It had been a while, so it was great to be back.”
Watch Jarrad Hoeata and the Cardiff Blues in action this Friday night at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park. Call the Ticket Office on 02920 302030 or click HERE to buy online.