Max Llewellyn is excited for the opportunities on offer in the inaugural Celtic Cup campaign, as he prepares for his first Cardiff Blues A start this afternoon.
The Wales under 20 international will line-up alongside experienced regional players such as Steven Shingler, Lewis Jones, Tom James and Dan Fish in the Blues’ backline, as they take on Leinster A at Energia Park.
Llewellyn believes the competition represents a positive new platform for youngsters’ development in Wales, as he aims to impress senior coaches over the next few weeks.
“This competition has been a massive boost for myself. Coming into the season, the main aim for myself was to be in this environment,” said Llewellyn.
“I want to learn from others around me. I feel like I’m doing that at the moment, and the other boys are constantly giving me feedback on how to get better.
“I want to take everything in and progress from there.
“It’s definitely different to what I’ve been used to. It’s helped me to prepare well in general, for both training and games.
“Our strength and conditioning coach, Will [Cusack], is making sure that we bring our snacks, are refuelling before going out to train and that side of it has been a really big step forward for me.
“I was really excited when the news came out about this competition because I knew it was a chance to play at a really good standard.
“It will be step up from what the British and Irish Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup had to offer last year. I’m really enjoying it so far.”
Llewellyn, who made an appearance from the bench during last week’s bonus point win over Dragons A, will come up against Irish international wing, Adam Byrne, in the Leinster backline.
The Cardiff Blues academy member believes his side can take confidence from the win at Rodney Parade, but expects a typically tough challenge at the Irish capital.
Llewellyn said: “It was a really good win against Dragons last week. It was really nice for us to pick up a victory in our opening game and that will give us a lot of confidence going forward into our next fixtures, and we can look to progress and keep up the good standard that we’ve set.
“We know that Leinster are going to present a big challenge, especially after coming off a good result against Ulster.
"But coming off the back of a good win in our first game, and how well we’ve trained this week, everyone is up for it and looking forward to it.
"Everyone wants to be involved and everyone wants to be playing in order to challenge themselves as players.
“I played against Leinster A last year in the British and Irish Cup and I was really impressed by what they could do and all the players they had.
“They’ll bring the same thing this week and hopefully we can match them, and give them a good game to come away with the win.
“Trying to get to the final is something we can all aim for here and with the group we have here, we can be confident that we can reach that goal, but now we want to prove that out on the field with results."
The Celtic Cup will make its Cardiff Arms Park debut on Saturday, September 22, as Cardiff Blues A host Ulster A (KO 2.30pm). Tickets will be on sale on the Cardiff Blues website from Monday, with entry included in the Season Membership packages.