After inspiring Wales to a Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam with a man-of-the-match performance and 20-points from the boot, Gareth Anscombe is relishing a return to regional action with a Welsh derby against the Scarlets on Friday night (7.35pm).
There has been little time to rest for Anscombe, who returned to Cardiff Blues training on Tuesday, with the race for the Guinness PRO14 play-offs alive and kicking.
All seven of the Blues’ Wales contingent are fit and available for the Cardiff Arms Park encounter and Anscombe is under no illusion of the significance of the derby showdown.
He said: “I guess we’re slowly coming back to reality - coming back to training brings you back to earth pretty quickly.
“It’s been a pretty special few days and nice to have the family over for it. It was nice to celebrate it with members of the public last night and obviously we had a good few days together as a team.
“But the rugby season never stops. It was a pretty special weekend that none of us involved will ever forget and now we shift the focus to chucking on the regional colours.
“It’s very tough more mentally than physically but the fact it’s a derby makes it easier. The fact that you are playing your mates, who you have just spent nine weeks going to war with, you get the chance to give them a kick.
“It’s a big game for both teams, we’ve had a nice little rivalry with them lately, both players are desperate to beat each other, there’s no love lost there, and it will be exciting.”
Anscombe, who sent Hadleigh Parkes over the whitewash with an impeccable chip, could find his close friend running down his channel on Friday night and is looking forward to the challenge.
He continued: “We had a few jokes about it over the weekend and that’s the good thing about these local games. The fact you get to play against your mates and it’s always a bit of fun when you get the result and can remind them of it.
“There will be no love lost there, both teams will be desperate to get a win and likewise we’ll be desperate to do the double on them at the Arms Park.
“They are a great side and have been the best Welsh region for the last two or so seasons, they play a great brand of rugby and have a good, experienced squad.
“We know how tough it will be and we know how big an effort it takes to beat them. We will have to be at our best on Friday.”
Wales’ Capital Region are currently level on points with Connacht but lie in fourth with four rounds of action to play. To automatically qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup they must finish in the top three and Anscombe is acutely aware of the challenge that lies ahead with Munster (away), Connacht (away) and Ospreys (Judgement Day) to come.
He added: “We’re hanging in there. We haven’t had the full set of results we would have liked but the boys have done pretty well of late to pick up a few points.
“We set a target of 10 points from the last few weeks and they achieved that with a good win away in Edinburgh so we’re still there or thereabouts and that’s why this game is so important.
“Both teams are desperate for points and with our run in it’s important we pick up points early and don’t make it too difficult on ourselves.”
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