Shane Lewis-Hughes is reaping the rewards of learning from experienced team-mates, such as Nick Williams and Olly Robinson, as he continues his fine run of form in the Cardiff Blues first team.
The former Wales under-20 international has impressed when called upon this season, featuring six times for John Mulvihill’s side in Europe and the Guinness PRO14 since the turn of the new year.
The Cardiff Blues academy product is driven by the quality of competition in the squad, and believes his personal game is benefitting from being able to pick the brains of his fellow back-row stars.
“I’m loving it at the moment and it’s been a great experience to play alongside some of the experienced boys in the squad,” said Lewis-Hughes.
“You try to learn from the likes of Nick, Olly, Josh Navidi and the back row we have here is insane.
“That only makes me want to raise my game and try to be the best every single day.
“The back row we have here are so good over the ball and that’s a big emphasis we have in defence.
“We know that we have boys across the team that can force turnovers, so for youngsters like myself, it’s vital that I step up and contribute to that.
“I’ve been working hard in training with the likes of Nick and Olly, and also looked back at footage to see how I can improve my technique.
“I feel like I’m getting better week-by-week so it’s something I want to add to my game.
“In the back-row, you have stick your head in sometimes, and it’s not pretty, but it can give the team rewards.”
Williams has led Wales’ Capital Region to two victories as captain over the last fortnight, and Lewis-Hughes believes the number eight’s leadership provides a significant boost to the side on the field.
The youngster added: “Nick leads by example, and he’s a man of very few words before the game who is very calm in his approach.
“But the way he goes around the field, his presence is enough and he gives confidence to youngsters like myself to try to step up and be as good as him out there.
“He’s a hell of a man, and a great leader.”