After crossing for a first half brace in the pre-season opener against Harlequins, Alun Lawrence says he is driven by the ‘unbelievable’ competition for places in the Cardiff back row.
The academy graduate starred in the number eight jersey at Twickenham Stoop, lining up in the number eight jersey alongside fellow homegrown stars, Shane Lewis-Hughes and Ellis Jenkins.
It’s safe to say that the race for selection is fierce, with the back row division at Cardiff Arms Park including Olly Robinson, Sam Moore, Gwilym Bradley, James Botham, Will Boyde, James Ratti, Josh Turnbull and Josh Navidi, who is set to return later this month after featuring for British & Irish Lions in South Africa.
But Lawrence, who enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last season, making 13 appearances for the Blue and Blacks, says he can only benefit from the quality of his team-mates.
“The back row at Cardiff is unbelievable with such quality across the board,” explained the former Wales under-20 international.
“They’re great mates to play with and train with to try and get each other better.
“For me personally, this year is about playing as much rugby as I can for Cardiff.
“I want to be involved in the 23 and hopefully the 15 as much as possible.
“I personally try to improve in all aspects of the game, get as much game time as I can and get better by playing around the calibre of players that are there.”
Despite Lawrence’s brace, a second half fight-back from Harlequins saw the English champions claim victory in an 11-try thriller in London.
However, the back row says there was plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the performance as the United Rugby Championship season edges ever-closer.
The former Ysgol Llanhari pupil added: “Quins upped the tempo and they came out firing in the second half, as we expected them to do and rung some changes.
“But credit to ourselves, our first half performance was excellent and we barely put a foot wrong.
“We controlled the tempo and played to a speed and the desire that we wanted to and have implemented during pre-season.
“Hopefully it was enjoyable and exciting for the supporters to come back in for the first time and see.
“In terms of the second half, I don’t want to say it’s a case of where it went wrong because Quins took it to a level.
“But we’ll always back ourselves to match them and stay with them and we wanted to kick on.
“But unfortunately they had a bit of momentum and we were in a bit of a tussle and an arm wrestle to get it back.
“There’s plenty of stuff for us to work on, which is what you want from a pre-season game. You don’t want it to be absolutely flawless because you might feel like you’re on top of the world, which is not the case.
“There’s always something to improve on somewhere."