Gareth Jenkins has welcomed this season’s new-look Powergen Cup – and believes the tournament sceptics will be proved wrong.
Llanelli Scarlets boss Jenkins delivered an upbeat verdict as England’s 12 Guinness Premiership clubs and the four Welsh regional sides prepare to launch the competition at venues from Newport to Newcastle next weekend.
Some critics have predicted low attendance figures amid fears that teams might rest leading players during a two-week break from Premiership action, despite the carrot of European Cup qualification and significant prize money.
But Jenkins, whose Scarlets outfit launch their campaign against Leeds at Headingley next Sunday, offers an optimistic outlook.
"If we are going to talk about people not wanting to support this tournament because it might not bring every international player out, then I would be disappointed," said Jenkins, a member of the British & Irish Lions coaching staff in New Zealand this summer.
"If we look at it as an opportunity of seeing some quality rugby, which is up to us as teams to ensure that happens, then it is mouth-watering because we are extending an already good fixture list with more quality.
"We are giving value for money to our supporters, and if we are positive about the way we talk about this tournament, I think it can be successful."
Llanelli are in the same four-team group as Leeds, Sale Sharks and Newcastle, while English champions Wasps find themselves alongside Cardiff Blues, Saracens and London Irish.
Premiership leaders Leicester, meanwhile, are pooled alongside the Dragons, Worcester and Northampton, with Gloucester, Bath, Bristol and Celtic League champions the Ospreys forming another highly-competitive quartet.
Group winners from three weekends of pool action in October and early December will contest back-to-back Millennium Stadium semi-finals next March, with the final scheduled for Twickenham a month later.
"As coaches, as well as players, our self-development is hugely important to us, and being challenged in a different environment is where we need to move ourselves on," added Jenkins.
"We are not going to have the same amount of detail. The familiarity you associate with the Celtic League, and the familiarity you associate with the Guinness Premiership, is all about the detail you work on to play against your next week’s opposition.
"This will be different. At this moment I wouldn’t know anything about Leeds, apart from the fact they had a great Powergen Cup season and did particularly well to win it.
"We can’t put too much detail into place about them because the knowledge isn’t there, so the challenge for us next weekend is maybe a little bit more liberated."