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Early struggles will stand to Cardiff, insists Hammett


Cardiff director of rugby Matt Hammett

Cardiff director of rugby Matt Hammett

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Cardiff director of rugby Matt Hammett

Mark Hammett knew the scale of the task that lay ahead when he took over from Phil Davies as Cardiff Blues' director of rugby during the summer.

The vastly experienced former All Black spent eight years coaching in Super Rugby and was never afraid to make big decisions despite the controversial consequences that followed.

Following the his first full season in charge of the Hurricanes (2011), Hammett decided not to renew the contracts of Ma'a Nonu and the then captain Andrew Hore.

His arrival in Welsh capital signalled the beginning of a new era but his side's early season struggles - especially at home - have been a point of concern for supporters, although Hammett himself is adamant that it is part of a learning process.

"There is obviously lots of work to do within the business, but we knew that and that is why I was appointed," he said.

"We know we have got a lot to do to develop our game and systems on and off the field. We know that is going to take time.

"I have inherited a group of players and management and we are all learning about each other. That is part of this journey we are on, but it is an exciting journey and this is just the start."

Last weekend's 26-9 home defeat to Ulster started a run of three consecutive games against Irish provinces and Hammett (42) will be demanding a response this evening.

The Blues are boosted by the return of Lions captain Sam Warburton, who is available for selection. However, Hammett must decide whether or not to use this game as one of the ones in which he is allowed to play under the WRU's new Participation Agreement.

The flanker will miss 16 of his side's games this season but it is expected that he will feature this evening as Cardiff look to end a run of back-to-back defeats.

"It's an unforgiving start for us but it gives us a really good picture of where we are," Hammett admitted.

"The fixture list doesn't bother me. If we can start developing and doing what we want against these strong sides it should leave us in better shape through the tournament.

"The attitude is fantastic and the application is good. It was nice to hear Rory Best talk about us being one of the most physical games he had had last week.

"We always prepare to get a result every week, but we know that is not always going to happen.


"You are up against very good sides and at times you have short turnarounds, these are the variables within it."

Leinster themselves will have a point to prove as they have also lost two games this season but they will take comfort from the fact that they twice put 34 points on the Welsh outfit last season (34-20 at the RDS and 34-22 in Arms Park).

Cardiff started with Welsh out-half Rhys Patchell at full-back last week, with Gareth Davies chosen to pull the strings. Their main attacking threat in the backline will come from Lions winger Alex Cuthbert.

With trips to Galway and Swansea to follow, the games aren't getting any easier for Hammett but he is expecting his side step it up against the reigning champions.

"We know very well that as soon as we turn up and think it's a game we should win then we are halfway to losing already. We are not a good enough team to turn up and expect to win," he said.

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