Following a frustrating start Tom James was thrilled with his first season back with Cardiff Blues.
The powerful wing spent seven years with the region before moving to Exeter Chiefs for a two-season stint.
He returned to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park last summer and scored 10 tries during his comeback campaign.
It was not all plain sailing after injury ended his World Cup hopes and sidelined him for several weeks at the start of the season but from there it was full speed ahead.
James, 29, said: “To come back and get selected in the World Cup squad only to get injured was tough to take.
“Then when I came back to the Blues I got injured again in the first game so it was a disappointing start.
“It’s always nice to get a good pre-season under your belt and sadly I didn’t have that but I was lucky enough that when I did come back I hit the road running.
“The game plan is fast and the way we throw the ball around on that 3G surface is awesome.
“I scored 10 tries, which isn’t a bad return from my first season back. I always try to have half the amount of games I’ve played, one every other game.”
Collectively there has also been vast improvement with Danny Wilson’s men climbing the Guinness PRO12 table and finishing seventh thanks to 10 wins from their last 14 matches.
With some small tweaks and a better start combined with the incoming summer reinforcements, James is confident there will be further advances from Wales’ Capital Region.
He said: “We had virtually all new coaches and it’s not going to happen over night, it took half a season to get into it.
“Up until Christmas we had some tough away games but we then had a couple of wins and kicked on.
“The second half of the season has been tremendous, it’s just that little bit at the start that’s let us down. Going forward we just have to improve our defence and that will come.
“We have signed some cracking players and those boys coming into the squad we already have will really push us on to be better. It’s going to be tough to get in the team.”
For now James is preparing for Wales’ summer schedule which includes a one-off Test with England before the three-Test tour of New Zealand.
A trip to face the world champions, whom Wales have not conquered since 1953, on their home patch is certainly a daunting prospect.
But James is relishing the challenge and is determined to make the most out of any opportunity he receives on the international stage.
He added: “I’ve never been to New Zealand and we haven’t beat them in so many years but we’re relishing the challenge.
“I have to push for a starting space. We have England, then the first Test with the All Blacks and then a mid-week match the Chiefs.
“If I don’t get selected for the Tests but play mid-week it’s another chance to push.”