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Young proud to see fight and passion for the Cardiff Blues jersey

First Team News | 12th February 2021

Dai Young was proud to see plenty of fight and passion for the Cardiff Blues jersey as his side secured a friendly victory over Ospreys upon the return to their Cardiff Arms Park home on Friday.

It was Young’s first match in charge at the iconic stadium since 2009, and the hosts ran in six tries in a thrilling encounter.

A theme of comebacks continued with the likes of Ellis Jenkins, Owen Lane, Kirby Myhill and Jason Harries making long-awaited returns from injuries. Welsh internationals Jenkins and Lane both finished for first half tries before departing at half time as pre-planned replacements.

With a crucial run of Guinness PRO14 matches on the horizon, Young was also delighted to see the youngsters putting their hands up for selection as he had an opportunity to assess his wider squad.

“I’m delighted. I’ve only spent two or three weeks with the players in training but it was really nice to see them in a competitive situation,” said the director of rugby.

“There were nine tries overall, so it was a good afternoon for both teams at a time when a lot of people are talking about boring rugby.

“There were a lot of good rugby played by both teams and it doesn’t look like any team picked up any nasty injuries either, which is huge when you play in friendlies.

“It was nice for Ellis. He must’ve wrote the story because it was nice for him to pick up the try at the death [of the half].

“It was always the plan for him to get 40 minutes and he came off with no ill effect.

“I’m really pleased with that. There was also a typical Ellis Jenkins turnover five meters from our line with 10 minutes left of the half.

“He thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure there was a bit of relief there as well. Being out for that amount of time, it’s always nice to get back out on the pitch.

“The players have been excellent throughout the week with him, and everyone looked forward to seeing him back out there.

“Laney has been out for a while as well, and I thought he was excellent, but I don’t really want to start singling individuals out.

“I thought there were great performances right across the board. The youngsters really stood up and showed what it meant to them to put the Cardiff Blues jersey on.

“That’s a big thing for me. That’s the first thing that I want to achieve. I want to have pride in that jersey, I want the squad to be fighting for selection week-in, week-out and when they’re lucky enough to put that jersey on that they’ll go out there and put their bodies on the line for that jersey.

“The youngsters have adapted themselves really well throughout training in the two or three weeks I’ve been here, and they haven’t looked out of place.

“They’ve been really eager to get that jersey on and they showed some real quality today. 

“There’s no doubt that we’ve got some real quality in this squad. There’s a couple of hotspots that people keep telling me that perhaps needs to be strengthened but my job, first and foremost, is to get the best out of this squad.

“There’s more to come out of this squad and there are a lot of guys who haven’t had regular runs in the starting XV. 

“They’ll put the pressure on now and that’s important to have that competitive edge amongst the players. It makes my job easier.”

Young was also delighted to be back at the Arms Park, which is a stadium that has been a significant part of the former Welsh international’s playing and coaching careers.

The former British & Irish Lion added: “It seems like only yesterday, but it’s great to be back at the Arms Park.

“I can’t hide the fact how much this place means to me and I think everybody knows that. 

“I spent 16 years here as a player and a coach, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.

“I think it was important that I went elsewhere to gain experience. I didn’t think this would be an option but for various reasons it’s become an option, certainly until the end of the season.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying it, and it was a big thrill to walk back into that dressing room, to walk out on the pitch. It was a really enjoyable moment for me.

"The one drawback was that there were no supporters here, and we're all feeling the same with that, but it was great to be back somewhere which means so much to me."