A refreshed Willis Halaholo is braced for a Friday night thriller in the capital as Cardiff kick off their United Rugby Championship campaign against Connacht this evening.
The Welsh centre is one of 11 internationals included in Dai Young’s starting line-up as he forms a familiar midfield partnership with Rey Lee-Lo for the curtain raiser.
Having impressed as a replacement in the pre-season win over Bath, Halaholo is delighted to welcome the Arms Park faithful back to the terraces and hopes to give them a show on the opening night of the new-look Championship.
“We’re hoping to get a big crowd and you didn’t realise how much they mean on-field until it was taken away from you,” said the Wales star.
“To have them back last week against Bath, you realise they’re the extra push you need. It’s good and hopefully we’ll get a good turn-out on Friday.
“Connacht are also a team who like to play a bit, as we do, and it’ll be a matter of who does it better.
“They like to score a few tries and run from deep, and we’re pretty similar in that sense.
“Hopefully we can play with a bit of tempo, play our game and having Matt Sherratt here has picked up the things we’ve needed to work on over the last couple of seasons.
“As Dai said, it’s definitely not going to be three-all and we’re looking to go out there and give the crowd what they want.”
Having featured for Wales during their summer series against Canada and Argentina, the centre travelled to New Zealand during the off season for a long-awaited reunion with family and friends in Auckland.
And now the 31 year old says he’s fit and firing ahead of his sixth season in the capital.
Halaholo added: “I didn’t realise how much I needed that break, mentally.
“It had been a pretty big season for me, coming back from injury and then getting thrown into the Welsh set-up and winning the Six Nations.
“There was a lot to take in so it was just nice to switch the rugby brain off and spend some quality time with family.
“But now it’s good to come back and there’s a good buzz around the boys. They’ve put in a lot of work during pre-season.
“The body is fresh, the mind is fresh and now I’m ready to rip in and have some fun with the boys.”
Tickets are still available for this evening's United Rugby Championship opener against Connacht Rugby! Join Willis and his Cardiff team-mates for what promises to be a cracking encounter between two free-flowing, attacking sides!