Cardiff Blues captain Gethin Jenkins has set a target of qualifying for the top tier of Europe as the new Guinness PRO14 kicks-off.
Danny Wilson’s men narrowly missed out on a spot in the Champions Cup last season, losing a play-off final against Stade Francais in June.
And despite changes to the format of the expanded PRO14, Jenkins, who is embarking on his 13th season with the Blues, insists the ultimate goal remains the same.
Jenkins said: “It’s exciting. Most of the teams in this competition know each other really well, they play against each other week in, week out.
“It’s nice to have two new fixtures to look forward to for the players and, having spoken to a few of the South African boys, they’re looking forward to it as well.
“They’ve done a very good job and organised it really well so that we’ve kept the fixtures that are important, the derbies, and obviously bringing a new nation into the league, a strong rugby nation in South Africa.
“We’ve been knocking around seventh place the last two seasons. If the league was still in the old format, the goal would be try and get into Europe in that top six.
“Obviously, the league has changed now but I think that is still the big target for us, to try and qualify for Europe.
“That’s the competition everyone wants to be in and the league is where you prove your form to get into that.
“We’ve got quite a small squad compared to some of the others, so we’re just looking to put in the performances that we produced on occasions last year on a more consistent basis.”
The Blues will face the teams in Conference A both home and away and those in Conference B, with the exception of Dragons and Scarlets, either home or away.
While the exciting format will take some getting used to, for players at least little changes.
Jenkins added: “For us, as players, it doesn’t really change a lot. You’re still playing against every team.
“I suppose the coaches will have to do a fair bit of planning in terms of where and when we can target certain games and they’ll look at the tough games when you have to put your full team out even if players are carrying bumps. It’s an exciting time for the competition.”
Cardiff Blues open their Guinness PRO14 clash with a home clash against Edinburgh this Friday! Tickets for the Cardiff Arms Park encounter are available by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030