Matthew Rees is ready to lead from the front, as he prepares to make his first Cardiff Blues appearance of the campaign this weekend.
The 60-times capped international has been sidelined since March with a knee injury, which he suffered in the home match against Ulster.
He made his long-awaited comeback in a 40-minute cameo for Pontypridd in December’s Principality Premiership clash against Bedwas.
The hooker will return to action in Sunday’s trip to Glasgow, and will captain the region in the Heineken Champions Cup encounter.
The former British and Irish Lions star believes he played some of his best rugby prior to his injury and hopes to emulate that form in order to compete for the number two jersey at Cardiff Arms Park.
“There’s been 10 months since I played my last game for the Blues at Cardiff Arms Park, but I’ve been back in full training, pretty much for the last six weeks,” said ‘Smiler’.
“With some of the senior boys being rested this week, I’ve been given an opportunity to lead the team out and make my first appearance of the season for Cardiff Blues.
“I’ll probably be a little bit rusty in terms of game-time but one thing is for sure is that I’ll do my best and try to lead from the front as I always do.
“Before I had the injury, I was probably playing the best rugby I’ve played in a number of years.
“I put that down to enjoying the rugby and enjoying the environment we had built, and the body was also feeling good as I kept on top of the conditioning side of it.
“If I can continue to perform at this level, then I would be foolish to hang up my boots. It’s only one career you have, and once you hang up your boots, there’s no turning back then. That’s what drives me week-in, week-out.
“The likes of [Kristian] Dacey and Kirby [Myhill] are keeping me on my toes and the challenge with them keeps me going as well.
“I don’t want to get to a stage in my career where I struggle to perform week-in, week-out.
“The plan was to get some game-time, and as forwards coach at Ponty, it was quite easy to pick myself and get 40 minutes under my belt!
“There was always one eye on getting back to playing for the region and have some game-time.”