Director of Rugby Mark Hammett insists his Cardiff Blues are ready for the challenge in Italy as the new Guinness PRO12 explodes into life this weekend.
Cardiff Blues launch the new campaign on Sunday afternoon as they face Zebre at Stadio XXV Aprille (kick-off 5pm local time).
Zebre finished bottom of the league standings last season but recorded two wins over Blues, including a controversial 15-10 loss in March.
However, new boss Hammett is not dwelling on any past history as he leads his Blues into league battle for the first time and instead knows his players are ready for the start of a new era.
“We are all looking forward to Zebre and getting into game week when it really matters,” he said.
“Pre-season can be taxing and very long for the players – they will let you know that. As a rugby player you want to just play.
“To be able to play at the speed and intensity we want to you have got to be fit. You have got to do the hard yards and the boys have done that in pre-season.
“But nothing beats that first game. Points are up for grabs against Zebre and we look forward to that challenge in Italy.”