Richie Rees has been delighted by the maturity shown from the Cardiff Blues A side, as they prepare to take on Leinster A at Energia Park on Saturday. (KO 1.00pm)
Wales’ Capital Region got their Celtic Cup campaign off to a flying start, crossing for five tries in a bonus point victory over Dragons A at Rodney Parade.
Rees is proud to see his squad members taking responsibility and says the leadership from the senior players in the side has proved invaluable in guiding the younger members of the squad.
“The victory was huge, but so was was the performance and some of the aspects of the game,” said Rees.
“I asked the boys to deliver, and they very much brought that from within and delivered it themselves.
“They took accountability and they de-briefed on Monday. We spoke about some of the aspects where we were excellent, and some that we struggled with and probably need to work on.
“We’re concentrating on four things, and if we can do better in those, then we’re doing our job. As long as the boys are being accountable for the heart of the performance they’re putting in, that will only help the team.
“The senior boys are key for this competition and they very much drive things. In regards to the detail, as a coaching team we give that, but on the field it’s down to them. The younger boys will thrive from that.
“The likes of Dan Fish, Steven Shingler, Lewis Jones - they’re very vocal on field and if you were to take them away from our squad, the volume of knowledge considerably drops.
“It’s credit to them and they way they performed on the weekend quite rightly allowed them to start again this weekend and prove that they need to keep knocking on the door for the senior opportunities.”
Leinster A also kick started their campaign with a bonus point win, as they saw off the challenge from their Ulster counterparts.
Rees is expecting a tough encounter against the Dublin-based outfit, but says the experience will be crucial for the academy members involved.
The former Wales scrum half said: “Leading into Leinster this weekend, it’s a completely different challenge. We respect what they’re about and they’ve got an unbelievable strength-in-depth in regards to quality.
“It’s very much a numbers game, in regards to Dublin, and the strength that leads on the pyramid for them. It’s probably something we haven’t got in Wales, but it’s a challenge that the boys are very much looking forward to and are relishing in training.
“It’s a cracking experience, and we’ve got a lot of younger boys in the squad this week due to various call-ups and injuries. It’s an experience for them and hopefully they’ll learn from it.
“We’re under no illusions that it won’t be an easy one against Leinster in Dublin. But we had a good win against the Dragons, which will be something to build on.
"We have to continue to do that, whether we get the victory on Saturday or not. As long as the performance is getting better and we feel we can build then we can definitely push on and challenge for a place in the final."
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.