Ellis Jenkins is hungry for the opportunity to make history, as Cardiff Blues look to book a place in May's Challenge Cup final at Bilbao.
Saturday’s encounter against Pau will be Jenkins’ first taste of semi final rugby in regional colours, and he is confident his side have the ability to emulate the success of 2010, where the Blues lifted the trophy following an impressive victory over a star-studded Toulon side.
The Welsh international is excited at the unpredictability of knockout rugby, but believes a return to the Cardiff Arms Park will give his side a boost heading into the clash.
“Photos of the win in 2010 can be seen all around the club, and when you speak to any player who has retired over the last couple of years, they always talk about how the Amlin Cup win was the highlight of their times here,” said Jenkins.
“We’ve now got an opportunity to make history of our own.
“We’re throwing all of our eggs into this basket. It’s a one-off game, knock-out rugby and anything could happen, and we’re doing our best to make sure we come out on the right side of the result and play again in Bilbao.
“This is the type of game you train for all year. It’s the first time during my time at the club that we’ve been in a position like this and it’s something we’re all looking forward to.
“It’s going to be tough when you’re playing in the knockout stage of any competition. We’ve been in the quarter last year and stumbled, so to get one step further is nice but we won’t be happy unless we get past this game on the weekend.
“We knew the Ulster game had the potential to be the last of the season at the Arms Park, but we said after the game that we didn’t want it to be, and it’s nice to be able to run out there again for what will, hopefully, be a sell-out.
“Being back in the Champions Cup has been one of our targets over the last couple of years, so to reach that goal is nice, but we need to put that behind us now and focus on this week and what an opportunity it could be for us.
The Pau squad is packed with established internationals, including Conrad Smith, Ben Mowen, Tom Taylor and Steffon Armitage.
Jenkins is well aware of the challenge ahead, but believes his side’s recent run of form can give them confidence ahead of Saturday.
The 24-year-old said: “Steffon has obviously been one of the best players in Europe over the last few years, but I think our back row has been going alright as well. It will be a good battle.
“He’s really strong over the ball, as he’s got the perfect body shape for it, and he’s one of the Top 14 leaders in turnovers, and is dangerous with ball-in-hand.
“Like any back row, he’s pretty all-rounded it will be a job for us to keep him, and the others, as quiet as possible.”
Tickets for Cardiff Blues v Pau in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup remain available on a limited basis and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030