Willis Halaholo is relishing the opportunity to go head-to-head with World Cup winner Conrad Smith if selected in Saturday's European Challenge Cup semi-final against Pau (1pm).
The Cardiff Blues centre came through as the All Black great’s understudy while playing at the Hurricanes.
He admits he learnt a huge amount from Smith, who then departed for Pau, with Halaholo inspiring the Hurricanes to the Super Rugby title.
Now with both players in the northern hemisphere, Halaholo is looking forward to going up against his former teammate.
He said: “It’s a massive game, it’s always good to get some silverware and we’re looking forward to facing a good Pau team.
“They have some really good players so we will recover well and look forward to the occasion.
“During my first year at the canes I learnt a lot off the legend that is Conrad Smith so to potentially be going up against him will be a big occasion and a good way to test myself.”
Cardiff Arms Park is heading towards a capacity crowd and Halaholo knows it will be a red hot atmosphere in the heart of the Welsh Capital.
“We’re hoping to get a sell-out crowd and that the guys are vocal because they can be the 16th man out there.
“There are a few guys leaving at the end of the season and it could be their last time at the Arms Park, whether on the field or off it, so it would be a good way to send them off.”
The Blues go into the encounter on the back of securing European Champions Cup rugby with a dominant bonus-point victory over Southern Kings last weekend.
Halaholo is delighted to see Cardiff Blues back in the top tier of Europe but remains firmly focused on business at hand in the Challenge Cup.
He added: “I’m pretty happy with how the boys went, we came out firing shots in that first-half and it just shows what we can do with some good preparation compared to last week.
“It’s awesome to get that (Champions Cup )under the belt, we will think about that at the end of the season because we are trucking along and looking forward to next week.
“But there’s a proud history behind the club and I’m just trying to do my part in getting us back up there. Hopefully we can do well and compete against the biggest teams.”
Tickets for Cardiff Blues v Pau in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup remain available on a limited basis and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030