Kristian Dacey is determined to be back at his best, as he looks to put a frustrating few months behind him.
The Wales international hooker was limited to just nine appearances in 2019/20, being forced to spend lengthy spells on the sidelines due to shoulder and foot injuries.
Having made a try-scoring cameo from the bench in the bonus point win over Connacht, Dacey wants to take it one game at a time, as he hopes to build momentum in his performances.
“I want to be competing for the number two jersey as much as possible and other boys have had it for the first two weeks,” said the hooker.
“But you certainly don’t want to see anyone getting injured. I’ve been in those positions, especially last season with operations on my shoulder and foot, and you don’t want to see anyone going through that because they are quite dark days.
“It’s not a nice thing to see, but for me now it’s time to take my opportunity again. I’m feeling like a new man at the moment, especially after the lockdown gave the body some time to rest.
“Hopefully I can get back to my potential and where I’ve been in the past. I want to kick on with my performances with Cardiff Blues.
“There’s always been something and it got to a point where it became really frustrating and got dark at times. I’d had a shoulder operation, came back for three games and then I broke my foot, and was out for another four months from that point.
“I came back for three more games after that and then we went straight into lockdown, so last season was a bit of a write-off.
“Hopefully this season I can get the game time and it’ll then be a case of being consistent.
“I want to put a run of games together and hopefully I can get back to where I can be, fighting for that number two jersey here and hopefully the honours that come after that as well.”
Next up for Cardiff Blues is a trip to take on Munster in the Guinness PRO14’s first Monday Night Rugby of the season.
With international players having linked up with their respective squads - including seven from Wales’ Capital Region - Dacey believes the upcoming fixtures is the perfect opportunity for players to put their hands up and make their mark on the coaching team.
The hooker added: “Obviously confidence is high, and we targeted those first two games especially.
“We had our internationals for those games so to target those two games and get the results we did was massive for us as we move forward.
“We’ve lost a few boys to the international squad but hopefully that gives some of the other boys an opportunity now to step up and put a marker down.
“You look at the squads in this competition year-in, year-out, and when teams lose their international players that’s when they pick up the biggest wins.
“We have lost some quality and everyone of them who have gone is a loss, but now is the opportunity to test our strength in depth and give these boys an opportunity.
“They want that exposure at the top level and it’s a chance to see what people are made of.
“Munster will be in a similar boat to us, having lost a lot of boys to the international squads as well, but we’ve spoken all week about taking opportunities and being excited to go out there and play.
“It’s a cracking stadium and it’s somewhere you love playing. It would be nice if there was a crowd there because it’s a good place to go when there’s a hostile crowd there.
“We want to go out and take care of the performance. If we do that, it will take care of the result.
“It’s a massive opportunity for the boys stepping in. These are the places where you make a name for yourself.”