Ellis Jenkins is looking forward to a new and exciting challenge, as Cardiff Blues prepare for their first Guinness PRO14 trip to South Africa.
Danny Wilson’s side head to the Rainbow Nation on Wednesday, and are set to take on Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings, as they look to mount a challenge for a place in the end of season play-offs.
It won’t be Jenkins’ first experience of rugby at the home of the Springboks, as he was part of the Wales Under-20 side that claimed third place in the 2012 Junior World Championship.
The back row believes the squad must make the most of the experience in a new country, but is confident the Blues will remain focused on the task ahead.
“It will be good to spend some time together in a different country. 11-hours on a plane tomorrow will be fun, but it will be nice to get out there and get some sun as well,” said Jenkins.
“We haven’t been away like that for a while and to go away for 10 days as a squad will be different for a lot of us, and we’re looking forward to it.
“Gareth Anscombe has played out there during his time in Super Rugby and he said the climate really takes you by surprise. It’s going to be tough, especially as they’re used to playing there, but we’ll try to play the rugby we’ve played over the last few weeks and see what we can do.
“We’ll probably need Munster to do us a favour against Cheetahs next week, but both teams will go into that game looking for a home play-off place as well. If that can happen, it’s up to us first of all to do the job this week and put ourselves in the best position for the play-offs.
“We’ll also have to go out there to enjoy the experience, and during this stage of the season it’s about making sure the players are fresh for the weekend, rather than getting hammered in training.
“We’ll have a fair bit of down time and we’ll look to make the most of being in South Africa.”
The Welsh international crossed the whitewash during Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter final win over Edinburgh, and his score helped Wales’ Capital Region secure a home semi final against Pau on April 21.
The win saw Cardiff Blues make it eight consecutive victories in European and domestic competitions, and the back row believes the prospect of a return to the Arms Park was extra motivation for the side.
“It was a tough game for us on the weekend and it was really nice for us to come out of the blocks the way we did. It was a big occasion and the boys rose to it.
“After the Ulster game, we said that we didn’t want it to be our last game of the season at Cardiff Arms Park, and we’re glad to get another against Pau.
“We said before the weekend that there were four games to go, and now there’s still four games to go. But we’re enjoying it and it’s a lot easier to enjoy it when you’re winning.
“We need to make sure we keep it going, not get too far ahead of ourselves and keep the form that we currently have.
“As a squad, we’ve been together for a long time and a lot of the boys who are playing now have come through the system, know each other well and enjoy each other’s company.”