Looking back on 2018, I think everyone involved with the club can be extremely proud of what was achieved. To finish the calendar year unbeaten in the WRU National Championship is something special.
It is a continuation of the mindset and standards that we have been trying to establish since the start of the 2017-2018 season. In the previous campaign we won the league title but lost out to Cardiff Met RFC, denying us the chance to go the entire season unbeaten just four games from its conclusion.
So come September 2017, we were very clear in our desire to go one better and go the entire season unbeaten. We managed that and it helped to reinforce the idea to the squad that we are expected to win all of our games.
What has really impressed me about what the club has achieved over the last few years is the number of players that have been used. It is not uncommon that when injuries bite at clubs or when squad rotation is utilised, standards drop. It's a testament to the strength in depth we have and how competitive each player is that that hasn't happened.
Returning to the here and now, from a personal point of view, the current season has been a frustrating one. By the end of November I had made five appearances for the club, scoring three tries. From a selfish point of view, I would like to play in every game that I'm available for, but I know that's not possible as the team needs to be rotated. I was then unlucky enough to rupture a bicep tendon against Cardiff Met in November. I was fortunate that the club's Medical Director, Angus Robertson, was watching the game, meaning I was assessed and in for an operation with him in less than a week.
The first month post the operation was mainly spent in a sling and letting the tendon reattach to the bone. I returned to the club at the beginning of the month to start some very light movement work with Lead Physiotherapist, Alena Dostalova and earlier this week, at the six-week mark, I had the all-clear from the doctor to start strength training again. Fingers crossed I make it back before the end of the season.
As a squad, we were given a bit of time off over Christmas. We have full-time work outside of rugby and after a year that had seen us achieve what we did, we were told to go and enjoy ourselves by the management. Although considering the size of some of our boys, I'm sure some of them enjoyed a few more mince pies than others, mentioning no names...(Brendan Lampitt!)
The boys returned to full training on the 3rd January and were put through their paces by our Head of Performance, Rhys Dyer. Ever since the club's National Cup fixture against Neath was cancelled, our main focus has been on maintaining our match sharpness and fitness. The game cancellation meant we would go a full four-week period without a game and that presents its own set of challenges.
In the past, similar periods without a game have been managed excellently by the club and it has been no different this time around. The club has established very good links with local sides and this week we have utilised those links to enjoy structured games in training with Croesyceiliog RFC, as we intensify preparations ahead of what will be another vital league game.
Craig Attwell was speaking to Andrew Deering.