Kristian Dacey is excited to have an opportunity impress international selectors, as Cardiff Blues take on Ospreys this afternoon.
The current captain has been capped eight times for Warren Gatland’s Wales side, and will be facing fellow international, Scott Baldwin, at the Liberty Stadium.
Dacey has led Wales’ Capital Region to derby victories over Dragons and Scarlets during the festive period, but insists he is fully focused on building the team effort in Swansea.
“On a personal level in the derbies, you’re coming up against your competitors for international honours,” said the hooker.
“I’ve always got aspirations to play for Wales. I’ve been in that squad for three to four years and everyone wants to play for their country.
“If I do get that opportunity again, I’ll hopefully take it with both hands. But for me it’s about putting that performance in for the region and the Wales-call would only come after that.
“Derbies are the biggest games for us as a group, and as individuals it’s an opportunity to put yourself in the shop window.
“Hopefully as a team we can go out there, put in a performance and hopefully have a few boys in the Welsh squad for the Six Nations.
“I’m good friends with Scott [Baldwin] in all fairness, and we’ve had a few good battles over the years.
“I enjoy playing in the derbies against the boys - the likes of Ken Owens last week, Elliot Dee the week before - and also against someone like Jamie George twice earlier in December.
“It hasn’t been an easy run of games and hopefully I can put in another performance this week to put us on the front foot, get us going forward and hopefully we can get a big win then.”
After an injury-plagued 2017/18 campaign, Dacey is enjoying his rugby in regional colours once again, as he looks to build momentum on the field.
The Merthyr-born star said: “I had a tough year last season with injuries and missed selection during the autumn, I couldn’t seem to get a run of games going.
“I think that having that run of games under my belt now has done me good and I’m really enjoying being out there and playing with the boys.
“You can be one game away from never playing rugby again, and I found that last year when I spent 10 or 12 weeks on the sidelines.
“Now I just want to take every opportunity as they come and just enjoy it along the way.
“You have to have some confidence in yourself, and last season I didn’t have any confidence in my body.
“I suffered a torn calf, a torn hamstring and ripped my groin off-the-bone, so it was numerous injuries.
“But it’s just one of those things. That’s the game of rugby, and that is what we get paid to do.
“I was very lucky to have a good support network around me. I have a wife and a young child so you realise when you get home that there is more to life than rugby.
“But as a rugby player, it can get frustrating and for me it’s time to get out there and enjoy playing rugby now.”