The Cardiff Blues’ new captain, Andries Pretorius, strikes an imposing figure, but his commitment, passion and drive should make him a firm favourite with fans.
Much has been made in the press about the lack of Welsh Internationals picked in the captaincy and vice-captaincy set up in the Blues region this season, but Pretorius is quick to point out that half are internationals, but also had this to add:
“Well unfortunately as everyone understands players do go away for 6 Nations campaigns and Autumn Internationals and it’s important that we have strong leadership structures throughout that period as well.”
Strong leadership is something the Blues were missing last season, often being on the receiving end of heavy defeats. Yet there is a determination from this captain that leads me to believe that the Blues will be a tougher team to break down this season. Pretorius made no mention of reaching the play-offs but he did have this to say:
“… I think we’re a really ambitious group you know … the challenges we set ourselves and the standards that we set are really high…and the idea behind it has been for us to take every 80 minutes and be able to be competitive throughout those 80 minutes and hopefully the results will then follow”.
The assurance could leave no doubt that the Blues mean business this year. They may have a developing side, but they are not going to be a team that any side will wish to face if they carry the commitment throughout the season. Captain Pretorius was also hugely enthusiastic about the move back to the Arms Park.
“Oh as a player it is massively exciting time for us. I mean it’s finally giving us the opportunity to interact with the fans a little bit and for them to get to know us as well… and I think as players we’re really excited to get back to that …. And it makes such a difference when you’re on the field ….when you’ve got your back against the wall and you’re on that try line trying to defend and the crowd are really getting up, it does give you that extra bit of motivation”
For the past couple of seasons the Blues have almost been without home advantage, but if the crowd can react as Pretorius hopes and the atmosphere of the Arms Park can be resorted, then no visiting side is going to have an enjoyable trip to the capital city.
Finally, the ever enthusiastic Pretorius moved on to talk about the introduction of Phil Davies to the Blues’ set up.
“For me personally he has been fantastic. I‘ve learnt so much already and already some of the new structures he’d bought in has been absolutely fantastic… The mental challenge alone has made a massive difference to the squad and brought us a lot closer together”.
This squad togetherness can only be a good thing for the Cardiff Blues. Off field drama’s and on field disasters made much of last season one to forget. With a new coach, the return to their old home and a new leadership set up amongst the squad, this could really be the season for the Blues to turn things around.