Sam Warburton insists it is vital that he plays for Cardiff Blues before returning to the international match-day squad for the autumn tests.
Warburton has been out of action for Cardiff Blues since suffering a fractured cheekbone in the 13th minute of the 16-13 defeat to Leinster on October 1.
The Wales captain has been named in the starting line-up for Cardiff Blues’ trip to Treviso on Friday (KO 8.15pm CET), and believes an appearance for his region is an important step towards his return to full form and fitness.
“I’m really pleased that Wales were understanding because we had a conversation and I said I thought it was really important that I got a game in for Cardiff Blues first,” said Warburton.
“In the past I’ve gone straight back into the international scene and had four or five weeks off and given it a go but realistically I find it difficult to go straight in and perform at the level I want without a game for the club first.”
Despite being named captain for Wales’ autumn series, Warburton reiterates that he must earn his place in the line-up for both region and country.
“You have to justify your national selection so this puts pressure on me to go out to Treviso in a massive game for the Blues. We need a performance and a win and I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
Warburton continues: “As captain the one thing I don’t want is to become complacent. I always want to have those nerves going into selection – you have to earn the right to play, whether for Cardiff Blues or Wales.
“Having this opportunity on Friday is great for me, I’ve only been involved in four games this season so I really want to prove my form.”
Cardiff Blues will be looking to put their league campaign back on track, following three consecutive losses in the Guinness PRO12.
The flanker is expecting a difficult test at Stadio Monigo, and emphasizes the importance of winning these types of matches in order to push into the top six at the end of the season.
“We have to get into the top six this year, so we have to go to these places and win. That is all that is on the players’ mind, to go out and win.
“We went out to Zebre and found it tough so we know how difficult it is, Italian teams really go after their home games so we will have to be at our best to get a victory over there.”