Club captain Josh Turnbull is confident a re-energised Cardiff squad can bounce back from the disappointments of a significantly disruptive 2021/22 season, as they prepare to kick off their pre-season fixtures against Gloucester this evening (KO 7.45pm).
The utility forward will lead the Blue and Blacks out at Kingsholm, with Dai Young opting for a mix of youth and experience for the clash in the West Country.
With the summer internationals to return to contention soon, Turnbull has encouraged those involved this evening to lay an early marker for selection.
“The way last season finished, everyone was keen to get away and have a mental break. I’ve been really pleased with the way everyone’s come back in and how we’ve bounced back,” explained the Welsh international.
“There’s a new energy to the group and everyone is keen to get going and right a few wrongs from last year.
“It was pretty tough at times, especially after the trip to South Africa when we got stuck there. That was mentally draining for the lads.
“But to go back out there later, it became a tough campaign and having that break has reenergised everyone and we’re looking forward to Friday now.
“If you want to pitch yourself and find out where you are in pre-season, you want to play against good teams, and Gloucester are a good team.
“They’ve got a very strong set-piece, scoring 20-plus maul tries last year, and were top in the Premiership, so we’re under no illusions about what they can do in that area of the game.
“But we don’t need to worry about them, let’s see where we are. Let’s pitch ourselves up. As long as we’re committed to what we’ve trained in pre-season, we fire shots, we constantly work hard to get into our shape, I’m sure - from the way things have gone in training - the more times we can do that the better it is for us.
“Pre-season games are about having an opportunity to go out there. The guys with the jersey this week have that opportunity to stake a claim for it.
“All you can do is put your best foot forward and have a good game. We know the quality that has come back into training over the last two weeks and they’ll want their opportunity at some point as well to stake a claim for a place against Munster.
“The quality that has come in this pre-season will add to a group that’s going to want to challenge each other to get better.”
Despite only two weeks remaining until Cardiff kick off their competitive campaign - welcoming Munster to the Arms Park on Friday, September 16 - the club captain insists their focus is fully on ensuring a strong performances against Gloucester and at home to Zebre next week.
“We want to get off to a good start with Gloucester and then Zebre the week after.
“Only then will we pick up what we need to for Munster. What’s important is we concentrate on ourselves.
“We haven’t watched too much footage about what Gloucester will bring or what they’ve done, it’s more about what we can deliver.
“It’ll be the same mindset going into Zebre. You don’t want to look too far ahead - we want to concentrate on us.”
Speaking at the club’s annual Summerfest event, Turnbull added: “The fans were fortunate enough to watch our team run, which isn’t something they get to do every week.
“It’s really important for us that we do engage with the fans. They support us through thick and thin, through the tough times and the good times.
“It’s nice to be able to go out and engage with these young fans, because they look up to us as idols.
“So spending quality time with them isn’t something we get to do every week. It’s been really good, and seeing so many out there was brilliant.”