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'It's been nice to start with the group, usually I have to play a bit of catch-up'.

Byline: SIMON THOMAS Rugby Correspondent simon.thomas@walesonline.co.uk

BY his own admission, Gareth Anscombe has been chasing his own tail over the last couple of years, thwarted by succession of injuries.

But now he's fit, fresh and determined to put the frustration of this summer's tour of New Zealand behind him and earn a starting spot in the Wales team during the autumn internationals.

It's been a real stop-start affair for the Auckland-born utility back since he linked up with Cardiff Blues in November 2014.

Whenever he's managed to string a run of games together and build some form, he's been struck down with another injury.

The latest of those occurred in the land of his birth this June when he suffered a heavy bang to his hip within minutes of coming on as a replacement full-back in the opening Test against the All Blacks. That was to be the end of his tour. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but now his body is right again and he's in an upbeat mood as he looks to help the Blues continue their winning start to the season against Glasgow at the Arms Park on Friday night.

"Ever since I've come here, I've felt as if I've been chasing my tail," said the 25-year-old.

"So it's nice to finally come into the season feeling fresh. "It's been great to have a break and a chance to get the body right. I hope it pays dividends.

"When you are feeling mentally fresh, you probably play with a bit more energy about you. Hopefully I can do that with my actions over the next four or five weeks.

"It's just been nice to start with the group. Usually I have to play a bit of catch up.

"My body is feeling good for once and everything has gone pretty well."

Anscombe, who qualifies for Wales through his mother, has managed to accumulate eight caps so far, amid the lay-offs, and has a real desire to add to that tally this autumn.

"It's been a funny old 12 months or so within the Welsh camp," he said.

"I've been in and out and a bit behind the eight ball with coming back from injuries.

"New Zealand was really frustrating for me personally. "I didn't play much on tour with injuries and stuff. It was a tough trip.

"But I'm starting fresh again now and hopefully I can get a string of games and put my hand up with my performances.

"I want to play for Wales. I want to be a part of that November series and I want to be playing for them too.

"It's a chance now for boys to put their hands up during regional rugby before the November series. Everyone wants to be a part of that.

"Coaches take notice of the teams that are winning. As long as we can keep ticking away here, hopefully they take a few from the boys.

"We would love to see as many Blues players as possible in that Welsh team in November. Hopefully if we keep going they way we are going, there will be a few of us there.

"It's just a good chance now for me to put a string of performances together over the next few weeks and hopefully get this team going in the right direction.

"I am still feeling a little bit rusty, but I had my first start on the weekend and I can build on that this week.

"As a fly-half, you've got to drive things. It's just nice to be back out on the park and contributing to the club."

Anscombe came off the bench during the 34-16 bonus point victory over Edinburgh and then started at No 10 in the 24-23 win against Munster out in Cork last Saturday.

"There is a good feeling in the camp at the moment and we've made a really good start to the campaign so far," he said.

"It was a really good performance away from home on the weekend to get the job done, which we have struggled in the past to do.

"We haven't achieved anything in a long time, so it's nice that we are two from two. I guess we get you guys talking about us in a positive way, which is nice.

"We won't get too caught up in it or carried away at this stage.

"We know we are just two games in and it's a long season. We will find out where we are come Friday night.

"Glasgow have been the top team in this competition for the last couple of years. They have been pretty consistent and the way they have started their campaign has been very impressive, putting 40 on Connacht away from home and taking care of Leinster.

"They play a really good brand of rugby. It's a bit off the cuff, but it suits them. They have got threats right across the park. If we kick loosely to them, I am sure they are going to make us pay for it.

"It's going to be a huge challenge, but there's a little bit of confidence in the camp at the moment."

Reflecting on the coming weeks, Anscombe added: "When we first looked at our fixture list, it was a huge challenge.

"There's no real let up the first six weeks. If we can get through this four or five week period with a good few victories, then it will really set up our season.

"If you look back at the first six or seven weeks last year, we probably lost our season just in that period. We had a good comeback, but we were always chasing our tails.

"We want to be in the top four, we want to be playing in the top European competition, we really want to be contenders.

"What a way to find out, against Glasgow, who have probably been the best team in the league the last few years. It's exciting and hopefully the crowd come out and watch."

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Gareth Anscombe has set his sights on helping Cardiff Blues extend their fine start to the season and to earn a place in Wales' squad for the autumn
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 14, 2016
Words:1041
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