A refreshed Seb Davies insists he is driven and determined to make his mark in Cardiff Blues colours, as rugby is finally set to return following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Almost seven months after their last outing in Edinburgh, John Mulvihill’s men will return to Guinness PRO14 action as they travel to Llanelli to take on Scarlets next week, before the season comes to a close against Ospreys at Rodney Parade.
Academy product Davies is part of a second row division which includes fellow internationals Cory Hill, Josh Turnbull and Rory Thornton, as well as the emerging trio of James Ratti, Ben Murphy and Teddy Williams.
The lock admits he’s enjoying a growing sense of responsibility within the group and says the squad are fully focused on proving a point when the action resumes.
“There’s a lot of competition and depth in every position at the moment, which is great. It’s pushing everyone in the squad,” said the 24 year old.
“Maybe there hasn’t been that depth and competition in the second row over the last couple of years but now you’ve got boys coming in, or you have younger players who are another year older and there’s a lot more competition.
“It benefits everyone. It’s pushing everyone on to train harder and I’m really enjoying that now.
“I’m in my fifth season with the squad, and I think I’m starting to make that transition from being a younger player in the squad to a more senior member.
“When I first broke through you had a lot of older players such as Melon, Warby and Smiler and they’re not here anymore.
“We have a lot of experience in the squad but not many players at the tail end of their careers and that means that a lot of the younger boys are stepping up and leading.
“You look at someone like Jarrod, who starts at 10, and he’s my age and has really stepped up as a leader. Having a voice like that leading the team is fantastic.
“My focus now is getting through these two games we have coming up and seeing how the rest of the year looks then.
“I haven’t set particular targets for myself, but as a collective our target will be winning both games and performing well.
“That’s as far as it goes for me. I don’t look too far ahead into the future and I want to take every day as they come, because the games are just around the corner and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.
“There will be a lot of people watching these games, such as international coaches, so they are important for the players. But it’s also important to work as a team and not try to do too much on your own.
“Rugby is a team sport, so as long that everyone does their job then I don’t see why we can’t go out and get two wins from these games, which is our goal.
“We’re itching for it as a group. Over the last couple of seasons we’ve been doing well in derbies, which wasn’t always the case before that, and we want to go out there again and show how good we are.
“We have a lot of older heads around, as I mentioned, but a lot of the younger boys are desperate to get out there as well and we’ll go out there and do that in the coming weeks.
“I’m feeling pretty good to be honest. A lot of boys were unsure about how training was going to happen and what the sizes of the groups were going to be.
“But we’ve gradually increased the size of the groups, and we’re all pretty much training together now, so it’s going well.
“I probably feel like my body is the most refreshed it’s felt in a long time.
“There’s a lot of games usually played in a season, and we don’t have a huge squad, so playing week-in week-out with a short turnaround can be tough on the body.
“But having this break has given everyone a chance to recover and have a bit more down time.
“From season-to-season you usually get a month off before heading back into pre-season, but this time we had four times that amount so that’s been really pleasing.”
It’s been a rollercoaster few months for Davies, who is on the cusp of becoming a father for the first time, with the due date set for next week.
The Welsh international admits he’s feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement ahead of the birth, but believes it will give him extra motivation on the pitch.
The lock added: “I was speechless, a bit shocked and by now I’m naturally a bit nervous because the due date is set within the next week.
“But I’m really excited for the experience. It’s been a bit different for us as we’ve been looking for a house but the market was on lockdown as well, but that’s picking back up now. We’re living in a flat at the moment, but hopefully we’ll be able to find a place to move into soon.
“It probably will have an effect on me as a person. I used to play a bit too much Playstation, which I won’t have time to do now, but we’ll have to wait and see.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of the boys in the squad who’ve had kids in recent months, and they’ve said that it’s changed them for the better and matured them, which I’m looking forward to.
“It will be a drive and a motivation, and having something like that, externally, which effects you positively on the pitch is massive, and now I can’t wait to get going.
“I think the reaction to the news from the boys was mixed, and I won’t name any names, and I have been warned about the sleeping patterns. But you just have to take it on the chin and get on with it.
“There’s quite a few boys who have had children recently. A lot of us have come through the system together and you’d often have double figures of us on the field at the same time, which is great. We’re all getting more experience now but also growing up together which is fantastic.
As a former Ysgol Glantaf pupil, Davies also spoke about the passing of Keri Evans last week and paid tribute to the influential teacher.
Davies said: “Mr Evans was a great teacher, and was a really approachable person who was easy to talk to, which is not often the case with teachers.
“I can’t speak highly enough of his influence, and he was a legend of a man.
“I think everyone was devastated with the news. I believe he had previous health issues which he overcame, but unfortunately it crept back in and it was a really awful, devastating news to hear.
“The tributes over the last few weeks really shows the mark of the man. You see so many former Glantaf pupils and people who knew him paying tribute which is great to see. I can’t believe it.
“He was the type of person who you’d just talk to, and not always just about rugby either.
“He used to go to a lot of the Wales games and I’d see him in the lounge afterwards, and we had some great conversations. He was a great guy.”