Gareth Anscombe is determined to repay Cardiff Blues and their supporters by delivering Heineken Champions Cup rugby and finishing at the Arms Park on a high.
It was announced last week that the fly-half would end his five year stay at Wales’ Capital Region to join the Ospreys.
Ironically, the Blues face their Welsh rivals at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, in the annual Judgement Day double-header, with a European play-off for grabs.
A victory would secure an Arms Park showdown against the fourth-placed team in Conference B for a spot in the top tier of European rugby.
And Anscombe insists there are no split loyalties and he is solely focused on giving his very best for himself, his teammates and everyone affiliated to Cardiff Blues.
He said: “Anyone that knows me as a person, knows my character and will understand I’m a pretty competitive person.
“I can understand those discussions around it being a bit awkward that I’m playing the team I’m going to next year, and it is a little bit awkward, but I’m a highly competitive person, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Blues, I have a lot of good mates here and ultimately we’ve worked for 12 months to make sure we tick this box.
“The discussion that I wouldn’t be ready or committed to the team, is something I don’t buy into. I’m pretty determined to make sure we win on Saturday and to personally play well for the team.
“Ultimately, it’s important that the Blues are playing in the Champions Cup and I know with the talent here they’re capable of competing there.
“One of our goals at the start of the season was to make sure we are playing in that competition regularly. Most importantly it gives us the chance to do that but if it gives me another home game at the Arms Park then it’s another carrot.
“It would be nice to finish on a high at the club and particularly at home it would be extra special. Hopefully we can do the job but it’s going to take an 80-minute effort. Hopefully we can finish on a high.”
The Wales international admits it was an immensely difficult decision to leave at the end of the season and while he is excited about his future, he will always cherish the times he had at the Arms Park.
He continued: “Although it is very tough to leave behind a lot of good mates and a lot of good people within the region, the way professional rugby is these days, sometimes you have to make tough decisions.
“This one certainly was and it’s sad to be going but I’m also excited about what’s ahead. I just want to make sure we finish on the right note and finish on a high.
“Part of making the decision so difficult is how well the fans have been towards me and my partner. They have been hugely welcoming, they have always supported me and although there have been some difficult times along the road, they have always sent some nice messages and at the Arms Park they have been outstanding.
“I will never forget a couple of fantastic memories that I’ve had wearing a blue shirt. Obviously, the highlight is winning the final in Bilbao but the week before, when we beat Pau and having the Arms Park sold out is something I will never forget. Just walking around and seeing how much it meant to everyone, all the people wearing blue jerseys and they’ve been fantastic.
“Hopefully they can understand my decision, some probably won’t, but I can’t thank them enough for all the support they’ve given me. Hopefully they are relatively proud of my efforts in a blue jersey and I can do them proud again on Saturday.”
The Ospreys ground to a 20-11 victory at the Liberty Stadium in January, Cardiff Blues’ only derby loss this season, but Anscombe expects a much more open encounter on Saturday.
There have previously been high-scoring encounters at Judgement Day with the Swansea-based region snatching a three-point win against a largely second-string Blues outfit last season, while a year previously, Anscombe racked up a 15-point haul in a 35-17 rout.
He added: “Last time we played the Ospreys, earlier on in the season, it was a tit-for-tat game, both teams were trying to figure each other out and tactically they played to their strengths a bit better than we did.
“I expect it will be a bit more open this time. The conditions will be outstanding at the Principality Stadium, as they always are with the roof shut, and the atmosphere will be nice. “It will be a bit more exciting and hopefully a bit more open and it’s good for the competition that we have so much riding on the game with both teams desperate to qualify for the Champions Cup.
“There won’t be much in it but recent games against them on Judgement Day have been really good spectacles and I wouldn’t expect anything to change.”