WE take on Bordeaux-Begles tomorrow evening, and I already had a head start in my preparation.

I was prepared to be patient to get back into the first team after recovering from injury after the boys had a successful two weeks on the road, but that all changed on the eve of last weekend’s Champions Cup fixture against Wasps.

We realised that there could be some coronavirus complications the day before the game but I got the call on Saturday confirming that I’d be starting at Rodney Parade; it was bizarre because I probably had more of Wasps’ plays in my head.

In recent weeks I have been helping to prepare our starting team with the opposition’s lineouts and set plays to make sure the team is as prepared as possible, knowing what they are facing.

It is sometimes tough to suddenly have to disregard that information to know all the details of our own plays in a few positions and if I am honest I had already started prepping for the Bordeaux game with some of their lineouts in my head.

South Wales Argus: FORMIDABLE: Bordeaux-Begles started with victory in NorthamptonFORMIDABLE: Bordeaux-Begles started with victory in Northampton

I am one of those players that likes to be prepared but I have no problem with being told that I am involved last minute. However, knowing my role well in advance obviously helps me get ready, mentally more so than physically.

That hasn’t happened recently and I am not the sort of player who will keep knocking on the coach’s door asking for when they are going to get their chance. I’ve been a coach and know that can sometimes go against a player.

I am a realist and the boys had won back-to-back games on the road in the PRO14 – that’s not the time to be demanding a start.

In the end, Covid opened the door for me with the management forced into pulling six players out of the squad to face Wasps, including back row forwards Harri Keddie and Aaron Wainwright.

It was my first game since March but I don’t tend to get nervous before kick-off. I’ve always been calm and don’t get too worked up.

This time was a bit different because I hadn’t run our own plays properly and had been caught a little off guard, but I think we adapted well.

It was quite a stop-start first half and that probably helped me after such a long time out.

We were still right in the game at 12-8 down after 70 minutes but we lost field position and Wasps scored a quickfire double.

South Wales Argus: TIGHT: We were in the game for a long time against WaspsTIGHT: We were in the game for a long time against Wasps

I woke up on Sunday with sore shoulders but I’m looking forward to being involved again in Bordeaux.

I’ve got back into the side and I am keen to stake a claim to the jersey with the festive derbies on the horizon.

As a squad we are all very conscious about seeing people; we feel safe and secure in the environment at the Dragons but there are risks outside it.

I’d be devastated if, after all my injuries and niggles, I was ruled out of a game because of track and trace after going for a coffee.

I could test negative and would still have to isolate. That would be hard to take when the big games are coming thick and fast.

I’ve written so many times about how fixtures in France are my favourites but this one is going to be very different.

It’s my first away game of the season (and over a calendar year!) and it will be my first experience of being locked away in the hotel, unable to be the standard ‘culture vulture’ when trying to see a bit of the town.

The match will be strange as well – I’ve loved the intimidating but enjoyable atmospheres at Toulouse, Montpellier, Perpignan. French crowds can be a rabble behind fencing!

It won’t be a packed house at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and it will be similar to last weekend when it was almost like playing at Tredegar Park rather than Rodney Parade.

You get into the zone when playing the game but every now and then during a stoppage you look around to see and hear nothing.

So this weekend we won’t head to France looking to silence their crowd in what will be a huge test.

It’s a cliché but Bordeaux do have some big boys up front; they can chuck the ball about from deep but they aren’t totally ‘jouer, jouer’.

They are structured, albeit with some big power players that can break the gain line and run over the top of you.

It won’t be easy but this is the Champions Cup and we are loving the experience after a decade in the Challenge Cup.