I DIDN'T really know what to expect from our recent training camp in Portugal, but it was a really good week.

It took us out of our usual environment, we were all together and it created a bit of unity. It was the first time I’d been away at that time of year – I’ve done a lot of warm weather training camps over the years - but only in pre-season.

It re-focussed our minds ahead of this last block of games we have coming up and it was a really positive exercise.

We stayed at the Browns Sports and Leisure Club and it is a great facility. We were up at 7am most morning to do three sessions, before being done by 1pm. We worked hard, but also had the rest of the day to spend time together.

Sometimes, as players, we turn up, train and go home and don’t spend much time together socially, so it was good to chill out and have a bit of banter with the boys.

Dean (Ryan) asked me what I thought of the week and I said I was really impressed – particularly at that stage of the season.

In my experience, come January, a season can go one way or the other and you either peak for the rest of the season or you can go the other way.

It was important that we got the win over Oyonnax in the Amlin Challenge Cup and that gave everyone a boost. It was a nervous victory and we should have won more comfortably, but a win’s a win and it was important for us.

In the last few weeks our forward pack have gone really well – both at Sale and against Oyonnax the boys have really fronted up well in the set-piece and in defence.

With the Premiership being such a forwards-orientated league, that has been a real positive for us.

Also, it was great to see some of our youngsters doing well at Sale. We had two young half-backs involved with Elliott Davies starting and George de Cothi coming off the bench.

What impresses me with those guys is how vocal they are. Sometimes young guys come in and play well, but stay quiet – but our lads have really stood up and they bossed the game well, which is encouraging for the future.

All credit should go to our coaches for giving those guys a chance and the club will benefit from that in the long term.

For me personally, I had a knock to my head which kept me out for three weeks, but that was up about a fortnight ago, so I have been itching to get back into it.

The club have looked after me pretty well, though, because I’d played every game up until that point, so they’ve let me have a few weeks of just doing conditioning to get some strength and fitness work done, which will be good for me for the rest of the season. It feels like an age since I’ve played now.