IT'S been a tough couple of weeks for us in the Guinness PRO14 and it has been frustrating for fans, players and management that in the first block we haven't been able to capitalise good starts against Benetton, Southern Kings and Cardiff Blues.

We've shown glimpses of what we are capable of but it seems we have to fight for every inch and yet we've allowed teams to get back into games when we should be killing them off.

That was the case in last week's derby loss to the Blues but hopefully a good fortnight in Europe will set up the next block of league games nicely.

We have travelled to Romania in the Challenge Cup, a competition in which we have surprised others by getting some great wins both home and away against quality sides.

I played in Bucharest four years ago and the fixture against Timisoara Saracens tomorrow will be another brutal game because they have a heavy set of forwards who love the set piece plus a back line featuring some Islanders who will be both confrontational and elusive.

We have to move the ball around like the boys did against the Blues in the first half, shifting their big, heavy forwards around the pitch, keeping the ball alive and playing the game at our pace.

Thankfully conditions will be different to Bucharest, when it was freezing cold, but it won't be a walk in the park for us. We have to do a professional job out there and come back with five points.

Away trips in Europe are one of the perks of being a rugby player and it's nice to tick off places like Romania, which would be a little bit down on my bucket list for travel destinations in my spare time.

The itinerary is a very tough one for us, with a flight out last night and one back to Luton late on Sunday, and things can sometimes be a bit mundane with bus journey and time to kill in airport lounges.

It can be hard on the way back when your body is bruised and battered, which makes it all the more important to get a good win – at least then it has all been worth it.

The schedule is challenging because we play in Timisoara tomorrow, travel back on Sunday and then have a quick turnaround to Northampton at Rodney Parade next Friday.

That will be another physical encounter and we need to go into that game with five points because the European Challenge Cup has been good for us in the past and has been a launchpad for the league.

There will be another challenge for me personally because after 213 games in the Dragons back row it's time to embrace another slightly different role – life in the second row.

I will line up in Romania tomorrow with 5 on my back, something that I've never done in 13 seasons at Rodney Parade.

I am more than happy to help out and add another string to my bow though; I've always enjoyed the science of the lineout and hopefully I can be another option for the coaches there.

I'll definitely be strapping my ears and I might have to actually scrummage for the first time in my life!

I've packed down in the second row in training and when we have had yellow cards but this will be different and I suppose I will be a bit of a 5 ½ , using my back row ability around the field.

I'm open-minded to it and up against us last week was Josh Turnbull, who made his 100th appearance for Cardiff Blues after previously making a century with the Scarlets. He has been a great servant for both clubs and has played across the entire back five.

THE A team finish their Celtic Cup campaign against the Scarlets this weekend and it's been a really valuable tournament.

I have enjoyed the experience of learning from joining the management team of James Chapron and Matt O'Brien as forwards coach and it's been great to see the next generation improving week on week.

Last week they really took the game to a Leinster side who are unbeaten and led a half-time in Ystrad Mynach.

In the end Leinster's quality and strength in depth showed but there are some real prospects in the squad and they will be determined to finish the competition well against the Scarlets in Llandovery, then there is the game against Hong Kong in Ebbw Vale at the end of the month.