Matthew Screech is ready to take his game to the next level as he joined his new Cardiff Rugby team-mates for pre-season training earlier this week.
The lock was amongst the international contingent who reported back for pre-season training this week, as Dai Young’s men prepare for upcoming pre-season fixtures against Harlequins and Bath Rugby.
Screech is confident the move back to his home club can be a springboard to reach new heights and is driven by the competition for places in the second row, which includes the likes of Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, James Ratti, Ben Murphy and youngsters Rhys Anstey and Teddy Williams.
“It’s been good. It felt a bit like being the new kid at school again on the Monday but it’s been a good week.
“I’ve started doing a bit more today in training and I’m really enjoying it.
“Coming here was about it being a new challenge for me. When the opportunity came up for me I felt it was an opportunity to experience something different.
“I already knew a lot of people here but there’s also been a lot of changes around the place since I was originally here as a youngster.
“It’s exciting to come back. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a little bit, experience a new club and I feel Cardiff is the right place for me to get the next level out of myself.
“It’s obviously a big loss to see Cory [Hill] going but maybe I can see that as more of an opportunity to get involved and more opportunity to improve, which I’m really looking forward to.
“There’s a lot of good second rows here and I’m excited to challenge. Having competition is great for the squad and it’s great for training, because you get the best out of each other.
“You look at the likes of Rhys Anstey and Teddy Williams coming through now, who are two young second rows with big futures and hopefully I can help them as much as they’ll help me.”
During his first stint with Cardiff, the second row made four senior appearances, while also featuring for the Rags in the Premiership and winning the Academy Player of the Year in 2012.
After revisiting the Arms Park regularly as a Dragons player, Screech is now excited to run out at the iconic stadium as a home player once again.
“I had a couple of senior games during my first stint here, playing in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and also playing at the Cardiff City Stadium,” added the 28 year old.
“Aironi was my only ‘RaboDirect’ game, as it was at the time, so that shows it was a long time ago.
“And when I last played for Cardiff RFC we had a grass pitch, so it’s been a while.
“The Arms Park always has a great atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to having the crowds back here.
“We’re also looking forward to those derby games. It was always great to play at the Arms Park, even when I was a Dragons player, but now I’m looking forward to being on the other side of it.”
The Cardiff academy product returns to the capital as a Welsh international, having made his Test bow against Argentina during the summer series, as Screech reflects on an unforgettable day at the Principality Stadium.
“It was awesome. It was amazing, really,” recalls the lock.
“I wasn’t expecting it, obviously, but it was great to get out there and finally get my cap.
“It was a special day and it was great to have my family there. I enjoyed the experience.”