James Botham is refusing to rest on his laurels and is firmly focused on continuing to improve from week-to-week, as he and his Cardiff Blues team-mates look to extend their winning start to three when they take on Munster this evening.
The young back row has been one of his side’s stand-out performers in the opening two rounds of Guinness PRO14 action, starring alongside fellow academy graduate Shane Lewis-Hughes as Cardiff Blues maintained a winning start.
With international players away on duty with Wales, the former Wales under-20 international is confident his team-mates will step up and make their mark on the coaching team.
“Every game is the same where you have to do your best and put yourself out there,” said Botham.
“This is a big one, and we’re missing a few big names in our squad but now it’s up to the other boys coming in, like myself, to step up and keep Cardiff Blues on a winning streak.
“There’s some big games coming up but we just need to take each game as they come.
“All the boys will step up, as always. There are a lot of youngsters coming through now, including myself, and it’s prime time for us to show what we can do.
“Now is the time to show we can get a foothold in this Blues team, and it will be really interesting over these next couple of games to see what we can do both as a group and individually.
“This season for me has been about trying to get myself out there and show the coaches what I can do.
“I’ve managed to stay injury free so far, so touch wood it can stay like that.
“But it’s been great on the whole. The boys have got the wins and that’s all that we want at the end of the day.
“We want to aim for those play off spots and make this club proud.
“Individually, it’s been a great start for me as a developing player and hopefully I can keeping heading into that direction.
“Being young, you learn different things in every game and the key will be about learning from your mistakes.
“Everyone will make mistakes, but hopefully I can just continue to progress and be the best player that I can, with some more opportunities to come.”
Botham makes his fourth successive start for the region, lining up in the back row on Monday alongside Olly Robinson and James Ratti.
The youngster is excited for his first taste of action at Thomond Park and insists his side are fully motivated for the challenge ahead.
The academy product added: “I can’t wait to step out at Thomond Park, it’s a venue I’ve never played at before.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s obviously a Monday night as well, and if I can’t get excited about these type of games, then what can I get excited about?
“It’ll be the same as any other, it’s just another game at the end of the day. You have your routine to prepare on game day, and the next few games are all on Monday nights so we can get used to that.
“They’re a big side who love to get out there and bully teams. But we’ve done well in that regard in recent weeks so if we step up and play our game then we can’t fault that.
“They have decent players. They are missing a few who are away with Ireland, but their depth is massive so that’s where we need to step up our game and try to get the ‘W’.
“This will be toughest challenge we’ve up against so far, especially by playing away.
“I know there’s no fans but that won’t change anything. We’ll be going out there for one reason, and that’s to get the win.”
Cardiff Blues are without Botham’s fellow back row, Lewis-Hughes, who was rewarded for his fine regional form with a call up to the Wales squad.
Botham is delighted for his team-mate, with his obsessive nature paying off.
The 22 year old added: “I’m so pleased for Shane. Obviously that’s been a life goal of his, like it is for all of us.
“I’ll be missing having him there on Monday, I can tell you that as a fact, but I wish him all the best.
“It’s great for him and it’s great for the club.
“He does ring me about rugby all the time! He doesn’t switch off! But that’s just him. It’s great and look where it’s got him.
“We do speak a lot, and he seems to be enjoying it. He’s in a great place and I’m really excited for him.
“Hopefully he’ll get an opportunity to play for Wales soon.
“He literally lives and breaths rugby. He’ll be passing the ball until 12 at night or will be in the gym until 12.
“He’s the first one in and the last one out, and he loves it. Like I said, it’s paid off for him.”