Heading into Saturday's BKT United Rugby Championship clash against Scarlets, forwards coach Scott Andrews has been impressed with the commitment and dedication from his young forwards this season.
Andrews has risen from academy coach to senior coach and has had the chance to work with many of the younger players in the squad previously, but has been pleasantly surprised by how quickly they've taken to first team action.
Mackenzie Martin stood out at the Cardiff Arms Park last Friday, coming on for Lopeti Timani and didn’t seem to be fazed by the power and ferocity of the South African pack.
"He still has a lot to learn but obviously you can see the size of the guy, the power he's got and he's worked really hard on his fitness the last 12-18 months," said Andrews.
"When I joined the academy it was all about his power, we knew what he could do, he just has to repeat it basically.
"He's trained well and now obviously he had a bit of game time, hopefully he’ll have some game time this weekend as well, but he's still learning a lot. He's got set pieces to work on, he's got the defensive side of the game to work on, but the attacking potential is there, as a ball carrier we haven't got that many of them.”
The size and strength of the young Number Eight is clear and evident for all to see when he steps onto the park, but many other players have performed remarkably in their new roles within the young Cardiff team.
“There's a few others in the pack doing very well. The two young hookers, Efan Daniel and Evan Lloyd, are getting a bit of game time now, they're both learning lots.
"Alex Mann has obviously played a lot of rugby for his age. Teddy’s still young. There are a lot of young boys that are in the squad getting more game time than they would have had, due to a few injuries in the back five of the scrum as well. To be fair to them, I think most of them have made very good impressions.
"Rhys Litterick has done well, he's been really good. He came in, and he went about his work quietly, you know?
"He came in pre-season, and obviously I hadn’t met him before, and he went about his work really quietly. He made a good impression on me straight away. I think it took a few weeks for the boys to really see what he was about, but obviously his opportunity came early on for a lot of game time and I think he stepped up to the mark.
"He's gone up against two big packs in the South Africans. He performed well against the Scarlets away a few weeks back as well.”
Cardiff secured a dramatic victory in their previous match against DHL Stormers last week, and although Andrews admits it has been a big boost to the side heading into the derby against Scarlets, they won't get carried away and will stick to their processes.
“It's definitely raised the mood in camp I think. We've been relatively pleased with certain parts of our performances in every game, obviously we haven't quite got the results.
"I think for all the games, even that game, it could have gone either way - and obviously gone to the wire. So, it's definitely added a spring in the step.”
“It only takes one or two games, one or two losses, tight losses, and you can start going the other way. And in fairness to the boys, they haven't whined in reviews. We've tried to keep a level playing field, whether we win or draw.
"Whether that try was given at the end or not it didn't change how we reviewed the game, it didn't change how we performed for the first 79 minutes or 80 minutes. So I'm glad they got over the line with all the efforts they put in the first five, six games.”