Gethin Jenkins believes Saturday's semi final victory over Pau is a clear sign of the progress made by the Cardiff Blues squad over the last few years.
Jenkins, who led Wales’ Capital Region to Challenge Cup victory in 2010, was captain once again, as the Blues booked a place in Bilbao, where they will face Gloucester in the final on May 11.
There were key defensive sets for Danny Wilson’s side throughout, and Jenkins insists his side can be proud of securing an impressive result against an impressive side.
“It shows how far we’ve come. It was probably not one of our best games, and we didn’t perform to the level we wanted to, but it shows the courage of the team ethic that we’ve got here to stick it out, work for each other and now we’ve got a very happy dressing room,” said Jenkins.
“We put the hard work in, forwards especially, during that last 20 minutes in defence. Our team has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years because of our defensive system and the work Richard Hodges has done to get us into that position.
“There is a really want in this team to put pride into our defence.
“We really had to step up to the mark to beat them today, and they came here confident of getting a win.
“They’ve had some big wins already this season, including beating Gloucester at Kingsholm, so it’s not a small victory. It was a good victory against a good team.
“When we get tired we do target the breakdown a bit more and we didn’t get the rewards that we normally do during the first half. But when they were attacking a bit more we managed to get some key turnovers.”
But before the final in May, Cardiff Blues face Ospreys at Judgement Day next week.
Jenkins insists his side are fully focused on next week’s derby at Principality Stadium, but is looking forward to a great occasion in the Basque country.
Wales’ record cap holder said: “I’m sure we can make a good fist of it. We’ll look at today and celebrate the win, but we’ve got a game next week against Ospreys and then we can look forward to Cardiff Blues being in an European final.
“We’ll think about that when we get to it. There will be a big build up and hopefully we can go to Bilbao to play a big game, which all the players here will thrive for.
“It should be great occasion for all the supporters who want to travel out there and get behind us and it will make for a great occasion for the players as well.
“Over the last three years we’ve been building towards this. There are boys who have been playing at the top level for one or two years who have come through and are confident to play at that level.
"We’ve got guys out there who hold nothing back. They’ve got skill and confidence to try things but also the confidence to stick to the system.
“There’s some great coaches here who lead the gameplan each week and for the players we can bring on our individual ability and adapt that as much as we can to get the performances.”