Matt Sherratt is settling into life at Cardiff Blues and is relishing the opportunity to lock horns with some familiar faces during pre-season.
The region’s new backs and attack coach took up his post following a five-year stint with Bristol, culminating in their promotion to the English Premiership.
But before Bristol return to the English top flight they will be Sherratt’s first opponents at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
During pre-season Wales’ Capital Region will travel to face Newport Gwent Dragons on August 12, before hosting Bristol on August 20.
It will be the first of three clashes between the cross boarder rivals after they were drawn in the same European Challenge Cup pool.
“I just can’t get away from the place,” said Sherratt.
“We have them pre-season and then I was sat on the train watching the Challenge Cup draw and I was just waiting for them to come out of the hat.
“I know all the players and staff there so it will be good to catch up with them.
“It won’t be a clash of styles it will be two teams doing similar things and hopefully we will be doing them slightly better.
“But they will be great fixtures. Bristol has a real fervent rugby tradition, the fans will travel and there’s that cross-boarder rivalry. They will bring a couple of 1,000 across the bridge and make a day of it.”
Sharratt began his career as a teacher before taking up a community rugby job with the RFU.
After just 18 months, he linked up with Worcester Warriors and spent six years at Sixways before moving down the M5 to Bristol.
But after 11 years in the West Country and helping Bristol out of the Championship, the time was right for a change and head coach Danny Wilson, who made the same move last summer, offered the opportunity.
“Bristol was a brilliant place to learn because I grew with the club,” added Sherratt.
“But I had been there five years and it got to the stage where I felt I needed a different challenge and environment.
“Obviously I’ve worked with Danny and Cardiff is a big city, Cardiff Blues is a big team and there’s a lot of potential here.
“I watched a lot of Cardiff Blues games, came down to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park and watched as much as I could on TV.
“I kept in touch with Danny as well, so I knew what was going on and signing early gave me an advantage because I had a heads up of the players and how we play.
“The most pleasing and exciting thing is if you ask any player from the most to least experienced, there’s a real excitement about having the ball in attack.”
Sherratt undoubtedly has plenty of attacking tools at his disposal – only Glasgow Warriors scored more tries than Wales’ Capital Region last season.
They have also added the likes of Wales international Matthew Morgan and Super Rugby star Willis Halaholo to their backs division.
And the target for 2016-17 is simple, improve on last year’s campaign, meaning a top six finish to secure European Champions Cup rugby.
“We were second highest try-scorers in the competition last year so it’s a case of adding to that foundation,” added Sherratt
“My attacking philosophy is simply to send numbers up the line to score. There are a lot of layers to that but the first thing is mind-set. The players have to have an unbelievable work-rate and the mind-set to enjoy attack.
“We’re looking to improve on last year, we were seventh then so it’s pretty straightforward and that’s top six.
“Everyone knows how competitive this league is, in the last game of the season we went from ninth to seventh in 30 minutes.
“It will be more competitive this year so we have to start well because you are away and running. Looking from afar last year we were playing catch up after the first six rounds.
“That will be massive for us, not only does it set you up well but it gives you confidence to compete with the best teams.”
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