EX-CARDIFF Blues hooker Garry Horrigan hopes a former triumph will inspire his Cross Keys teammates in their opening British & Irish Cup clash tomorrow.

For the 28-year-old knows what it is like to be on the winning side against Newcastle.

Horrigan played for the Blues when they hammered the Falcons 45-24 in the LV= Cup at the Cardiff City Stadium in January 2010.

He is under no illusion as to how tough this weekend’s showdown is going to be for last season’s B&I Cup finalists.

Newcastle are taking the Championship by storm this season after being relegated from the Aviva Premiership in controversial circumstances.

The Falcons’ loss was London Welsh’s gain as they were promoted on appeal after their Championship play-off success.

Newcastle – under legendary coach Dean Richards – are taking no prisoners in the England’s second tier, currently top of the league with six impressive wins from six.

Their squad includes seasoned internationals in Scotland scrum half Rory Lawson and back rower Ally Hogg as well as Italy lock Carlo del Fava.

But Horrigan is adamant Keys are not going to Kingston Park just to make up the numbers.

“We’ve had a good start to the Premiership season and hopefully we can carry it on to Newcastle this weekend,” he said. “They’ve got a strong squad with some international players and a great coach in Dean Richards.

“We know they are an ex-Premiership team and that they are probably going to go straight back up.

“But what you always get from Cross Keys is an honest performance and we’re no mugs up front. We’ve got a dominant, tough pack and we’ll get in amongst them.”

Horrigan, in his second spell with Keys after also playing for Newport and Cardiff, snapped his Achilles tendon in a friendly last season that saw him out of action for the Pandy Park side’s most memorable campaign in their 127-year history.

They won the Swalec Cup final in May after an epic 32-19 victory over Pontypridd a week after they were beaten 31-12 by Munster A in the final of the B&I Cup in Cork.

“Last season was so frustrating and I was the fittest I have ever been,” Horrigan said. “But that’s what’s so special about Keys – even though I was out for eight months, I still felt a part of it all. It’s like a family.”

And Horrigan still hasn’t given up of playing regional rugby after having a taste of the big time at the Blues.

“Missing big games like the Swalec Cup final and the B&I Cup final were hard to take but I’m back and I’m playing well,” he said.

“I still have ambitions to play regional rugby and I’m hoping for a big game this weekend.”

Keys will be missing captain and openside Rob Nash and loosehead prop Richard Cornock tomorrow, the pair still suspended.

Cross Keys: G David, E Jones, L Williams, L Ford, N Trowbridge, D Gunter, R Dyer (capt), A Lott, G Horrigan, C Gould, D Hodge, O Hodge, R Peebles, N Cudd, A Powell, Replacements: G Price, M Jones, J Sollis, S Higgins, R James, J Lewis, D Jones.