Three years ago Dai Young made a bold decision and got rid of a lot of the "old guard" and that included me. He was right to do so. It was time for some new blood. Cardiff Blues have gone from strength to strength in recent years and there is a great mix of players in the current squad.
The once "young guns" such as Jamie and Nicky Robinson and Robin Sowden Taylor have matured into senior pro's. The new young guns such as Halfpenny et al are also on fire. Its great to see the older senior pro's like Nugget and Alfie still pulling out the goods week in week out as well.
Dai's overseas quota has been filled by Xavier Rush, Paul Tito and Ben Blair. All these guys have done him proud. Credit must also be given to the unsung heroes such as Mama Molitika, Deiniol Jones and Gareth Williams. They are the backbone of this team.
Many people leave a club and become bitter and twisted about their departure. I on the other hand wish my old club nothing but success. I have many close friends at Cardiff, including the grounds men Mike, Nick, Bryan and Royston and lets not forget "Dan the man" who runs the car park and my dear friend Jenna. I am genuinely pleased to see Cardiff in such a strong position in this pool. Dai and all the boys deserve all their success.
I left Cardiff and joined Sale sharks and on the whole I had a good 2 years up in Manchester. I had hopes of rekindling my international career when I moved up North but reality hits home and back in Wales the quality of props coming through was strong. Time to accept that this chapter of my career was over but I still had something to offer. As one door close in the UK another opened in Italy.
Some call it chasing the money, but I see rugby as my passport to a terrific life experience. Its not until you live in Italy do you realise what "Dolce Vita" means. It's the "sweet life". Italy is a beautiful country, the food, the weather, the people, the lifestyle . . . and the wine. Its great fun learning the lingo and between my attempts at Italian and my team mates attempts at English there is always something to laugh about. There aren't many places where you can train twice in a day and then find yourself in the afternoon 15 minutes up the road drinking cappuccinos on Lake Garda. Life is so much more than fast cars, fast living and fast women.
The rugby in Italy is physical and what the Italians may lack in ability they make up for with their passion, guts and guile. I feel that Italian rugby is at a cross roads and it needs to join the Magners League in order to keep up with rest of Europe let alone the rest of the world. The refereeing in Italy leaves a lot to be desired as well and this in itself constrains the Italian game.
My final thought...
Rugby has enriched my life with wonderful friends, memories and experiences and for this i am eternally grateful.