Dai Young has hailed the ‘outstanding’ impact of Cardiff’s new signings after the Blue and Blacks secured an opening day win over Munster on Saturday.
Cardiff kicked off their BKT United Rugby Championship campaign with victory, thanks to tries from Max Llewellyn, Kristian Dacey and Aled Summerhill - a late replacement for Owen Lane in the starting line-up.
However, it was number eight Taulupe Faletau who caught the headlines after a Player of the Match display on his debut in the blue and black jersey.
Fellow new signings Thomas Young and Lopeti Timani also made impact while Liam Williams showed sparks of what he can offer, before departing with a first half injury.
Young revealed that the quartet have had a positive impact on the environment since arriving at Cardiff Arms Park and is happy with the depth being built within the squad.
The director of rugby said: “You can’t underestimate how good Toby was. He was outstanding, and even just having him in training has lifted the standards.
“All the signings have lifted the standards without me having to do or say anything.
“Just having these guys out on the park and everyone seeing what they can do on a regular day-to-day basis just lifts the standards right up. It’s what you’re looking for when recruiting these type of players.
“Toby was outstanding, but he’s been outstanding ever since he broke through.
“We’re obviously not going to over-play him because there are requirements by the Welsh squad and we have got to manage him, and rightly so. You want these players playing in your big games, like your derbies and in Europe.
“You’re going to have to mix and max, but we’ve also got someone like James Ratti and James Botham who can both play there as well. So hopefully there’s enough rugby to keep bringing those guys on as well.
“Thomas also had a couple of turnovers and a couple of little darts and Lopeti came on and showed how physical he can be with his ball carrying. But the biggest thing for us is having a strong 23.
“If, on a regular basis, you can have a 23 where we know there’s people coming off the bench that can have an impact, then you’re not necessarily taking people off because they’re playing poorly or they’re injured.
“People will come in to have an impact, and Max didn’t deserve to come off based on the way he was playing. But then you’ve got someone like Willis to come on, and he did exactly what we were hoping he was going to do.
“Very few people could have created a two-on-one in the scenario for the final try.”
Another stand-out performance came from centre Llewellyn, who opened the scoring before playing an key role in Dacey’s try later in the half.
Young believes the academy graduate has benefitted from a run of games in the first team and believes the likes of Llewellyn and Mason Grady can learn from playing alongside their experienced peers such as Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo.
“The big things for Max was that he played towards last year. He had a couple of games under his belt, and you know with the young players that they’re going to give you a little bit of a rollercoaster,” added the former Wales prop.
“But you’ve got to stick with them. We’re aware that we don’t want to over-play or over-expose them, and we’re also in a really good position in terms of our centres.
“There’s two real experienced players in Willis and Rey, who was outstanding against Munster.
“You’ve also got someone like Mason coming through and we can obviously drip feed those players in when we feel fit.
“But a part of the job is to get the experienced players to give a helping hand to the younger boys.
“Against Benetton last season, our backline had an average starting age of about 21, which is probably not the way to go around it. We don’t want to go chucking them all in together but our hands were tied a little bit.
“In an ideal world, this year we’ll probably play a little bit of youth alongside a bit of experience to try and bring them through.
“Max has come on leaps and bounds in a short space of time and what he’s looking for now is consistency.”