Owen Lane admits Saturday's European semi final against Pau will be an extra-special occasion after growing up supporting Cardiff Blues on the terraces.
The Rhiwbina RFC product regularly attended matches at the Arms Park and watched his boyhood heroes such as Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Casey Laulala.
He fondly recalls the 2010 Challenge Cup win over Toulon, and hopes to play his part in another memorable European occasion with his home region.
“It’s been quite surreal for myself to come into this environment this year, and what we’ve achieved as a group has been remarkable,” said Lane.
“Growing up as a Blues fan, it wasn’t something I saw very often, except for 2010 when we won the Amlin Cup, so it’s a big thing for the whole club. I remember watching that game on TV.
“To be part of the build up to that, and hopefully be involved over the weekend, is pretty special.
“I used to go watch the side with my family, and went to most games, standing on the South Terrace, so being out there and playing is pretty surreal.
“It does make it special, being a Cardiff boy. Growing up, everyone wants to play for Cardiff Blues if you are from the region.
“You still get the excitement when you see us doing well, and I really enjoy the buzz around the building because I still enjoy seeing Cardiff do well.
“Growing up, supporting the Blues, these are the games you enjoy. People will make a day of it, we’re expecting a big crowd, I know tickets are going well, and hopefully it will be a full house.
“These are the games you want to play in as a rugby player. It at home, it will be packed and it’s a semi final. You literally can’t think of a better game to be involved in. If I’m selected, I’ll be excited.
“It will be a massive game and an occasion that we can use to show that our progress has come to a head.”
The 20-year-old has impressed since his PRO14 debut against Connacht in November, racking up six tries and being rewarded with his first professional contract at the region.
Lane is looking forward to the challenge of facing experienced internationals such as Steffon Armitage, Tom Taylor and one of his role-models, Conrad Smith.
“It’s a tough challenge against such a good team and such good opposition. It’s something I’ve thought about throughout the week, and it’s an exciting opportunity for me to play against players of that calibre, such as the likes of Steffon Armitage and Conrad Smith, if I’m selected.
“At the start of the year I was probably aiming to get a few games under my belt for the first team, and that’s where I thought I was.
“If I got the opportunity, I wanted to take it and I’m glad to have taken the opportunity when it was handed to me. I haven’t looked back since and I’m enjoying my time.
“At the end of the day, it’s just another game of rugby. It is a big one for us in terms of our season, and especially at home, with a big crowd, it can make a big difference.
“I’ve played a lot of my rugby at centre growing up, so I used to enjoy watching Dan Carter when he played 12 and Conrad Smith, funnily enough.
“When you grow up, watching rugby, you tend to watch All Blacks internationals, so it would be surreal if I would come up against him on Saturday.”
Tickets for Cardiff Blues v Pau in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup remain available on a limited basis and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030