Following the disappointment of an injury-time loss to Toyota Cheetahs, Richard Hodges insists Cardiff Blues are ready for a crucial Guinness PRO14 clash with Southern Kings.
The Blues displayed an abundance of character in Bloemfontein but were dealt a heart-breaking blow with a penalty try at the death handing Cheetahs the spoils.
Danny Wilson’s men jetted to Cape Town for a week of recovery and preparation before travelling to Port Elizabeth to face the Kings.
They have trained in temperatures of 25c plus at the Stormers training ground in Cape Town. The Blues defence coach has been pleased with the squad’s response ahead of a critical encounter and he is under no illusions of it's importance.
He said: “When we did our reviews from the Cheetahs game we felt the first-half was probably the training session we missed during the week (due to a 55-hour journey following two cancelled flights).
“We got to half-time and addressed a couple of issues and in the second-half we were much more ourselves on both sides of the ball.
“It was hugely gutting the way the game ended but we got a point out of it, which could prove crucial at this stage of the season.
“All you ask as players and coaches at this time of year is to be involved in games at the back end of April and May that they have something riding on them, that they are not dead rubber games.
“Every game for us at the moment is huge, we have a lot riding on this weekend, we’ll have half an eye on the Ulster-Ospreys game on Friday night but we have to concentrate on ourselves and trying to get a win against a tough Kings side.”
Hodges admits there have been some tough selection calls in the build-up to the clash and he expects a chaotic game plan from the Kings.
He added: “We picked up a few bumps and bruises in that first-half but Gareth Anscombe seems to be coming through the protocols pretty well, so it’s hopefully just crossing a few ‘T’s and dotting some ‘I’s tomorrow and the rest of the squad seems to be pretty fit.
“Selection is getting tough; the selection meetings are lasting longer but that’s how we want it to be.
“We gave a few other players an opportunity in that game and the majority of them stood up in the second-half and put their hand up for selection at the business end of the season.
“The Kings don’t really like structure, they like the chaotic nature of the game. They will try to play from deep, they’ll try to get us out of our patterns and systems so we just have to make sure we stick to them.”