Mason Grady is relishing the opportunity to learn from players such as Rey Lee-Lo as he continues to make strides in the Cardiff jersey.
The 20-year-old, who featured for Wales under-20 over the summer, has featured in five of the opening six BKT United Rugby Championship matches this season.
Grady, the brother of former Cardiff centre Cory Allen, returned from a significant knee injury towards the back-end of 2021/22.
And he’s desperate to make up for lost time in the Blue and Black jersey, starting with Sunday’s visit of Edinburgh.
Grady said: “For me, I’m just enjoying learning off other player. You look at someone like Rey Lee-Lo in defence. He’s one of the best in the world at that and I just enjoy learning off others to be honest and try to ask as many questions as possible.
“He’s played in New Zealand and played for Samoa internationally so I’m trying to ask the questions and see what he thinks.
“I’m someone who enjoys having the ball in hand, especially when the games become a bit more loose - that’s when I come to my own.
“But at the moment I’m learning a bit of defence and I’m enjoying that as well.
“I was really glad to be involved with Wales under-20s over the summer. I didn’t have many games after my injury so it was good to go out to Italy and get a few games under the belt.
“We had a good group of lads as well and I learned a lot from the coaches, like Byron Hayward.
“For me now I just want as many games under my belt as possible. I want to try and get into that starting team because there’s a lot of competition here at Cardiff in the centre. It would be good to get that starting spot this year.
“There’s a lot of young players coming through and it’s really good to see. We’re all a tight-knit group but it does get competitive at times, which is a good thing.
“When I was injured, I was fortunate to have the right people around me. My brother went through it, Ellis Jenkins has also gone through it all as well and I had really good physios working with me. I’m glad I’m back now after a tough time.
“Cory has been a really good role model for me. I used to come down here to watch him play. So to be here now is amazing and a bit surreal after watching him all those years.”
Cardiff’s midfield partnership for the majority of last week’s win over Stormers was Grady and fellow youngster, Max Llewellyn, with Willis Halaholo departing the field in the opening five minutes following a significant hamstring injury.
And while Grady is expecting another tough challenge on Sunday, he is excited to play in front of the Arms Park crowd again and hopes to finish the opening block of games on a high.
“It’s been a successful first block. We’ve got three wins on the bounce and it’s the first three wins on the bounce for Cardiff since 2018/19. So things are going well,” said the academy product.
“But Edinburgh is going to be a real test. They’re coming off two good wins and it will be a real tough game.
“But four wins on the bounce to finish the first block of games would set the season up nicely.
“The crowd last week was phenomenal. I don’t think everyone realises how much of a help the crowd is, especially at the Arms Park. To have them down on a wet Saturday night was unbelievable.”
Cardiff finish the opening block of BKT United Rugby Championship fixtures against Edinburgh next Sunday at the Arms Park (15:00). Tickets are selling fast but you can secure yours today by clicking here.