It has been two months since John Mulvihill arrived at Cardiff Arms Park and he has been struck by the passion within the Cardiff Blues region.
The Australian became the region’s new head coach in June and has been hard at work as the squad look to build on the success of winning the European Challenge Cup.
Mulvihill’s side have slipped to two pre-season defeats in the preparation for the 2018-19 campaign, however the focus has always been on gearing up to face Leinster on August 31.
He has been impressed with life at Wales’ Capital Region and has pinpointed the passion as the difference between his previous jobs in Australia and Japan.
Mulvihill said: “Cardiff is a fantastic city, the boys train really hard, we have fantastic facilities and all of the staff are really supportive so it all bodes well.
“There’s a lot of detail that goes in each week, as is the case with Super Rugby, but the one thing that stands out is the passion.
“It is not just me or the coaches, it is all of the medical staff, the S&C guys, the office staff at the Arms Park. They just love it. This is their team.
“We have built some momentum which we have taken into the season. We’ve had a short pre-season but the boys have turned up fit and we want to get back to how we finished last season.
“What let us down last season was the start so that is a big focus and we have to make sure we get some wins early on.”
While last season culminated in a memorable weekend in Bilbao, it began in less auspicious circumstances with three consecutive losses in the PRO14.
That slow start proved costly with a fine second half to the season not enough to climb into the play-offs.
Now, Mulvihill is determined to kick-off with a bang and while he cannot guarantee victories the aim is to ensure the Blues are always battling in the contest.
He said: “The biggest expectation we have is from each other. We have to make sure that every game we are in, our head is in the contest and that should give us an opportunity to win.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we will prepare to win and while that might not always happen, as long as we are in the contest we will go close.
“We want to better in the PRO14, which is our bread and butter competition and then when the Heineken Cup comes along we win some home games and put teams under pressure away.
“We have the English champions, Lyon are a very strong team and Glasgow won our PRO14 conference last year so they are all very good teams. It is good for us to be in there but we don’t want to make up the numbers, we want to play finals football from the start.”
Cardiff Blues take on Leinster in the opening encounter of the Guinness PRO14 on Friday, August 31 (7.35pm). Tickets are available now by calling 029 20 302030 or clicking here.