A refreshed Kirby Myhill is excited for a return to competitive action as he prepares to captain Cardiff Blues in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup opener against Ospreys on Saturday.
It’s been a frustrating campaign for the hooker, who has suffered back-to-back injuries, limiting him to just four Guinness PRO14 outings to date.
However, the 29 year old revealed that he and his team-mates are champing at bit to run out at Liberty Stadium on Saturday, after being put through their paces by Cardiff Blues’ strength and conditioning coach, Robin Sowden-Taylor.
“We had a nice little break where we had some cross-fit games during the week, which was a bit of fun and allowed the boys to have a bit of a laugh,” said the former Wales under 20 international.
“Robin enjoys his cross-fit, so he had us doing that and competing against each other.
“But now we’re looking forward to Saturday. We’ve had a bit of a break so it’s nice to be back into a game week and do a bit more work with the ball in hand and we’re excited for a competitive game this week.
“It’s a bit strange to start a new competition at this time of year, but unfortunately we won’t be facing the South African teams any more.
“However, we do have some Welsh derbies coming up, which are always big games for us, with a big one against Ospreys to start it off. The boys are looking forward to getting into it.
“They’ll be strong, there’s no doubt about that, but as a team we can look forward to it.
“Hopefully we’ll have a nice day for it, with a chance for some nice, running rugby.
“We’re always in it to win it, and it’s a Welsh derby which will always be big games no matter what competition we’re playing in.
“We’re seeing it as another derby that we want to go out and win.
“It’s been a frustrating season for me. I missed a block of games with a hamstring injury, came back and injured the other hamstring.
“So yes, that was frustrating for me but now it’s about looking forward to getting back on the pitch.
“It’s been nice to be back training, and now it will be nice to be back on the pitch and leading the boys.”
Myhill will be the first Cardiff Blues player to captain the side under the PRO14’s new trial laws, which includes the Captain’s Challenge - where each team are allowed one challenge for try-scoring, foul play incidents or to challenge any refereeing decision in the last five minutes of a match.
The Captain’s Challenge is aimed at enhancing the accuracy of decisions already under the remit of the match officials.
Myhill is open to the idea of trialling the innovative new laws: “There’s some interesting ones, especially the captain’s challenge, and it will be interesting to see how they go.
“It’s something that we can probably speak more about after the game because it’s all new for us and it will be an interesting challenge.
“It’s good to freshen things up every so often, so that’s something different to think about and I’m looking forward to it.”
As a front row, Myhill has also enjoyed working with the club’s new director of rugby, Dai Young, who featured as a prop for Cardiff, Wales and British & Irish Lions during an acclaimed career.
With Matt Sherratt also set to join the coaching team next season, there is a real feel good factor amongst the squad at the moment, as the hooker explains: “He’s been a great impact for the boys, and he brings a vast amount of experience, both as a player and coach.
“He’s got that respect from the boys straight away when he walks into a room and the boys really listen to what he has to say.
“I think it’s going to be really good for the club.
“We’re obviously got Matt coming in as well. We’ve worked with him before, and he did really well here leading us to the final in Bilbao, and it’s an exciting time here.
“It’s a really positive place at the moment. The boys are really enjoying it and that’s a really important thing. Dai has definitely brought that in.