Garyn Smith is relishing the challenges that lie ahead after scooping the Airbus Most Promising Player of the Season award.
The young centre was honoured at Cardiff Blues’ End of Season Awards Evening at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, last week.
He edged a high competitive shortlist following a breakthrough season in which he made 14 appearances, scoring two tries.
The former Wales Under-20s star did not expect to rack up so many first team minutes but he was thrilled with the campaign and is determined to kick on in 2016-17.
He said: “For myself personally this season has been really good, especially since Christmas. I’ve played a lot more and started a lot of games.
“I didn’t expect this much rugby with Rey (Lee-Lo) and Cory (Allen) in front of me, and the likes of Gavin Evans as well.
“But they have supported me through this and I’m really happy with the way it has gone.
“It’s sad what happened to Cory with his ankle but it was an opportunity for me, I took it and did the best I could.”
A European Challenge Cup trip to France to face the now champions Montpellier and a Boxing Day derby with Newport Gwent Dragons rank among the 20-year-olds season highlights.
There is sure to be more competition at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park next season as Wales’ Capital Region look to climb the Guinness PRO12 table.
With Cory Allen returning to fitness and new signing Willis Halaholo arriving there is increased strength in depth.
But Smith is determined to remain a centre of attention and he is eager to continue the improvement both individually and collectively.
He added: “Since Christmas and then the Six Nations all of the older boys have come in and really helped us younger lads and the team.
“They have shown great leadership towards the end of the season and it was great to show that in the last match. It was a great game to comeback in the second-half and I was glad to get a try.
“This year has been good for me and hopefully I can take that into next season. With Willis coming over it just adds to the competition and it’s exciting for Cardiff Blues.
“It will be my first proper pre-season with the Blues so I’m really looking forward to it. There will be a lot of hard work through the summer but hopefully that will pay off next year.
“For myself I want to get that starting spot again and hold onto it, be as competitive as I can and as a team hopefully we can carry on this momentum, continue to build and get into that top six and even top four.”