Alex Cuthbert is determined to finish the season on high as he prepares for a summer move to English champions Exeter Chiefs.
It was confirmed this morning that the wing will bring a seven-year spell at Cardiff Blues to an end following the culmination of the current campaign.
Cuthbert admits it was a tough decision to make and that he will always be grateful to the Cardiff Blues faithful who have stood by his side but he is also excited about the next chapter in his career.
He said: “A lot of thought went into what I was going to do next and at this stage of my career I felt I needed a new challenge.
“I have been at Cardiff Blues for my entire career and the offer at Exeter was the perfect opportunity for me both as a player and definitely as a person to reach out and see what else is out there.
“There was a lot to weigh up – Exeter are a top club playing in front of a packed house every week which is hard to turn down but I’ve also got a lot of fond memories and good mates here in Cardiff.
“The crowd at Cardiff Arms Park have always been great and I’ve had a lot of support over the years.
“Through all the ups and downs I have some great memories at Cardiff Blues but now I’m looking forward to making some more at Exeter Chiefs.”
Cuthbert’s immediate focus is on a return to action from the knee injury that has kept him on the side-lines since February and he is well aware of what is at stake at the Blues.
Danny Wilson’s side are currently fighting on two fronts with a European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Edinburgh on Saturday and a chance of securing a play-off place in the Guinness PRO14.
And the 27-year-old, who could be passed fit, is hoping his side can claim an eighth consecutive victory on Saturday to secure a home semi-final and the perfect Arms Park farewell.
He continued: “I’m really keen to get back on the pitch now, especially with everything we have to play for and the chance to win silverware in two competitions.
“It’s maybe a long shot with the play-offs but we are still in with a chance and with the quarter-final we have a great opportunity.
“It would be awesome to get the win and come back here to the Arms Park but we can take nothing for granted because it’s going to be a really tough game. Edinburgh are rejuvenated under Richard Cockerill and are a real tough team to beat.
“I’m keen to get back and involved, if fit and selected, and if we get through this weekend we would back ourselves against any team at home. It would be really nice to finish on a high.”
Reflecting on his time at Cardiff Blues, which has seen him amass 112 appearances and an impressive 45 tries, Cuthbert has plenty of fond memories.
His try-scoring debut against Treviso and victories over Toulon and Toulouse stand out and he is eternally grateful to Blues for the platform to reach the international stage where he has starred for both Wales and the British & Irish Lions.
Cuthbert added: “This is the club that gave me that platform to play for Wales and the Lions. It all started here and I am so appreciative of what Cardiff Blues have given me.
“My first game, playing against Treviso, stands out. That was my first real experience of top level rugby and I was playing with the likes of Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush, Deniol Jones, Ben Blair and Casey Laulala, some real top players, who I learnt a lot from.
“During those first few years a lot of players retired or left and I quickly became a senior player. I learnt so much here during that time.
“The win against Toulon in 2013 was also huge - they hadn’t lost that year and went on to win the competition that season.
“This year’s victory over Toulouse at home was also special. They’re obviously a big team, known for winning big trophies and that was a great win to give something back to the fans.
“That standing ovation against Treviso last season is also a stand out memory - after the turmoil following the England game and then coming back and finishing that season really well. That’s a moment that will always stick with me.
“It’s a real honour running out every game here, it’s always a great atmosphere and I always look forward to playing at the Arms Park.”