Lock Jarrad Hoeata is relishing the atmosphere of another big Welsh derby day as Cardiff Blues make the short trip to Rodney Parade to face Newport Gwent Dragons in the Guinness PRO12 on New Year's Day (kick-off 2.05pm).
New Zealand international Hoeata has plenty of big match experience having played for the All Blacks and in Super Rugby.
But he admits the noise levels and derby day feeling at a packed out BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park for the first part of the double-header with Dragons was something special.
And now he is excited about Part II on the opening day of 2015 as Blues look to bounce back and perform.
“It was an awesome atmosphere to be a part of the first game,” said Hoeata. “It was a really big crowd in Cardiff and it was great to be a part of it, even if the weather wasn’t too flash. It was loud.
“We have some big derby games back home in Super Rugby so there are similarities, but it was great to be a part of.
“I thought the Dragons played well and brought the attitude they needed, they deserved to win.
“I thought we came back really well in the second half and I was pleased with that, right up until the final whistle I felt we had a chance of taking the game, but we need to get that first half right.
“We’ve got work to do. If the Dragons play like that again we need to really raise the bar, it’s going to be tough.
“We need a big attitude shift. The first half of the game at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park was disappointing, we let ourselves down in that respect so it’s a thing we need to get it fixed for this week.”
Hoeata is now looking for a run of games after a spell out with injury during what he admits is a big month ahead for Blues to start 2015.
He said: “It’s a big January, but I’m not looking too far ahead. I’m just getting into the Dragons game.
“I think we are heading in the right direction. The performance against Dragons didn’t show that, but as a whole we are on the up.
“Personally, the season has been a little bit frustrating so far,” he added. “I injured my calf when I first arrived and then after a decent run of games I picked up another injury.
“But I was happy to get through 80 minutes at the weekend and got through a bit of work. I’m looking forward to trying to rip into it again.”
And as for his first taste of a Welsh winter, Hoeata laughs the current cold snap admitting: “It was pretty cold Christmas morning and I got out and the car was pretty iced over - it was a bit of an igloo, but not too bad. You have to remember, I played Super Rugby down in Dunedin and the winter down there is not too much warmer!”