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Priestland - Cardiff move can be springboard to take my game to next level

First Team News | 22nd July 2021

Rhys Priestland is showing no signs of slowing down as he looks to use his move to Cardiff as a springboard to take his game to the next level.

The 50-times capped Wales international linked up with his new team-mates for pre-season at the Arms Park earlier this week, having spent the last six season at Bath Rugby.

And now the outside half is excited to get down to business and believes there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic ahead of the new campaign.

Priestland said: “It’s been good! The first day wasn’t too bad, as they eased me in lightly, but today was pretty tough especially in this heat. There’s no hiding from that, but it’s been good to meet everybody.

“There’s a few boys that I knew anyway, but I’ve also met a lot of new people and coaches, and it’s been good.

“Coming back, I knew I’d know a few coaches and players, and obviously I’m a little bit older now, so I wasn’t quite as nervous as when I first joined up with Bath. But it’s always good to have the first couple of days out of the way and you start to feel like you’re part of the squad then.

“I think I played with him, but I definitely trained with Richie [Rees] and I’ve known him over the years so I have a good relationship with him.

“I’m excited to work with Richie and while I’ve never worked with Jockey I’ve heard only good things about him from other players.

“As a player, I know I’m getting on a little bit now but I’ve definitely got a desire to get better.

“I want to improve, I want to learn things and hopefully, with the coaching set-up at Cardiff, it will really kick me on and I can add to my game.

“It’s important to constantly have that drive to get better, and I think with the coaching set-up here in Cardiff that it’s a good place for me to be.

“At most teams now there is usually decent competition for most positions throughout the squad.

“So I’m not sure how it will pan out so for me it’s about concentrating on what I can do, trying to put my best foot forward and if I can help the club in anyway, then that’s great for me.

“There’s definitely a lot of good, young yet experienced talent within the squad.

“The internationals are away at the moment but, from watching from the outside, they’re all fantastic players.

“There’s a good mix to the squad and I’m excited for it all to click together and kick on.”

The 34 year old will be competing with the likes of Jarrod Evans, Ben Thomas and Jason Tovey for the number 10 jersey at the capital.

As one of the more experienced players in the Cardiff squad, he’s eager to give advice to those around him in the squad but he’s also excited for the opportunity to run out at the Arms Park as a home player.

“What I found at Bath was helping and working with not only youngsters, but other players in general, is something I enjoyed. I enjoyed spending time after training and seeing people getting better,” added the former Scarlets playmaker.

“Then when you see those players going out to perform whatever they’ve been working on in a game, the sense of satisfaction I get is huge. It’s almost as if I’ve done that myself and it was me performing that skill myself or whatever it was.

“It’s something that I enjoy doing, and hopefully I can add value to the squad in that way as well. 

“But we’ll just see how it goes. It wasn’t part of my thinking that I’d come here because it’s a young squad and I can help out in that way.

“But if I can help anyone in any way, then I’d be more than willing to do that.

“When I was playing at Bath, the atmosphere was special there and both Cardiff and Bath are blessed with the location of their stadiums.

“There’s nowhere else where you can be in the pub in the middle of town but then be at your seats within five or 10 minutes.

“That’s a huge asset to Cardiff and I’m looking forward to experiencing that atmosphere.

“Hopefully we can play some good rugby, get some decent wins and that will make the experience so much better then.”

During his time in the West Country, Priestland made a huge impression on The Rec faithful, making more than a century of appearances and finishing the 2019/20 campaign as the Gallagher Premiership’s top point scorer.

The MBA student, who is close to completing his studies at University of Bath, reflects fondly on his time with the club but is now fully focused on life back in the Welsh capital.

The Welsh international reflects: “I loved my time in Bath. It’s a fantastic part of the world and I loved playing for the club and living in the city. I made a lot of good friends there, and that’s the main thing. 

“At the end of the day, not everyone can win silverware. Everyone player and team obviously wants to but along the journey it’s all about giving the best representation of yourself.

“I was fortunate to meet so a lot of great people that made my time there really special.

“That’s come to an end now and I’m back in Cardiff. I lived in Cardiff before moving to Bath, when I played for Scarlets, and it’s a great city.

“I’m now excited to get started with Cardiff Rugby, and to be living here as well. I loved living here previously, so moving back here was a big thing for me.

“In terms of the rugby, I watched a few of the games last year and saw their style of play and how exciting it can be when they get things right.

“That was something that was very exciting to me and I’d love to be part of something like that. 

“Also in terms of life after rugby, I’m completing my Masters degree in a couple of months now, once I get my dissertation in, so I will have a couple of years then to focus on what I want to do post rugby and I think Cardiff is a good place for me to be in terms of making sure the transition isn’t too drastic.”