Back row forward Macauley Cook admits every player at Cardiff Blues will be out to impress with new boss Mark Hammett watching from the stands on Friday night.
Cardiff Blues face English top-flight side Exeter Chiefs on home soil this Friday evening (kick-off 7.30pm) as planning and preparations for the new Guinness Pro12 season continue to gather pace.
New Director of Rugby Hammett will be among the spectators after jetting half way across the world to take up the hotseat.
And Cook knows – with boss Hammer admitting he will arrive with no tainted views on any player – the slate is clean and everyone must shine to nail down a starting spot.
“We all want to impress on Friday and we have got to look forward to working with him (Hammett),” he said.
“We know he will be here on Friday and we’ve heard a lot of good things about him; he has done a top job in New Zealand. We also have two really good coaches here (Dale McIntosh & Paul John) who have done a great job all pre-season.
“We have a lot of new boys this season and they have fitted in really well. That is credit to the structure and environment we have here.
“We have a big squad and hopefully, if all goes well, we can pull off some good results and go well. “I see myself as a six now and that is the way forward,” added Cook.
“I enjoyed last season and loved my rugby. Josh (Turnbull) coming in is a bonus for the squad and the team. He is a great player and I watched him over the summer and he did well in South Africa.
“I’m going to thrive on the challenge of getting the six jersey and I know he will do the same. We will push each other and that is a positive.”
Meanwhile, Cook has described team-mate and close friend Owen Williams as an inspiration to the whole squad.
Williams is currently at the Welsh Spinal Injuries and Neurological Rehabilitation Unit at Rookwood Hospital as he continues his long-term rehabilitation and recovery after suffering a spinal cord injury in Singapore in June.
Cook and his team-mates have been regularly visiting Owen Williams in hospital and he revealed how the Wales centre remains positive and overwhelmed by the messages of support from around the world.
He said: “I go and see him nearly every day in hospital and he is such a strong boy. He is still laughing and joking and he is doing superb. He always picks my spirits up.
“I just hope for the best for him now. I’m going to be there and a lot of the boys are going to be there throughout. I’m just proud of the way he's dealt with it.
"He's such a strong bloke. If anyone has got the strength to pull through, it's him and he’s doing brilliantly well. We have just got to support him all the way.”
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