Transfer silly season has begun and it’s already affecting Danny Wilson’s men at the Arms Park. So far this week we’ve had a leaving announcement, a new contract announcement and it’s also become apparent that we may have had an unannounced leaving.
First up the worst kept secret in rugby was officially confirmed this week as first Cardiff confirmed Rhys Patchell was heading off, swiftly followed by Llanelli announcing he’d be moving West come the summer. Not a massive surprise as there’s been no hiding of the fact that he wants to be more assured of starts at fly-half which wasn’t going to be the case at Cardiff with Gareth Anscombe on a National Dual Contract and the emergence of Jarrod Evans this season.
Obviously it’s disappointing to lose Patch, but Danny Wilson’s sentiments were spot on in respect to players wanting to fight for their places. Nobody is assured of a position anywhere, the best player gets picked, and it’s down to the player themselves to prove they’re the best. On a side note, I wouldn’t have given Patchell the promise of the number 10 shirt because he’s a far superior full-back anyway, but there’s a different blog for that.
Losing Patchell isn’t a problem: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/is-patchell-leaving-actually-that-bad/
From players looking for an easier ride, to loyal players willing to fight and Ellis Jenkins signed a contract extension the day after Patchell announced he was leaving. Some fantastic news to go into the Montpellier away game on a high and for the future of the club. At just 22 Ellis has already made 49 Cardiff appearances, as well as captaining the Wales U20s at the 2013 Junior World Championship. He has also captained us on occasion and was having a fantastic season before picking up a knee injury at home to Harlequins that will keep him out until the new year.
On signing the new deal, Jenkins said, “I have been at Cardiff Blues since I was 15-years-old and this is the only place I want to play my rugby under the guidance of Danny Wilson.
“I enjoy playing for Cardiff Blues, have a great relationship with the fans and I feel this season I have also really stepped up my performances.
“It would have been easy to get up and move on. We have players like Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi and Josh Turnbull in the back row so you are never guaranteed a jersey here. But I’m not that kind of person at all.”
Enough to bring a tear to the eye! But exactly what you’d want to hear from a player. He’s right when he says the calibre of back rowers is high as he’s battling with Navidi and Warburton for the openside role, but as the game changes the need for the type of player like Jenkins and co increases and I’d start with two out of three of them every time. I can’t wait to watch Ellis grow into a great Cardiff and Wales player over the years.
Now, those have been the two big announcements this week, but there appears to be something that has slipped off the radar. Or more to the point, slipped off the Cardiff Blues website. For if you were to head onto the squad page there with the intention of checking how many appearances hooker Rhys Williams has made, you’d never find out. It would seem a bizarre thing to happen accidentally, and it would make sense if he has left the club considering he’s probably fourth choice hooker now behind Kristian Dacey, Ethan Lewis and Matthew Rees, with even Liam Belcher pushing him for that fourth spot. Williams did make one appearance off the bench v Zebre on the opening day, but since then hasn’t featured at all, even for the A team. He has made three Cardiff RFC appearances, but not since the start of November when he came off the bench against Cross Keys.
Williams has been tweeting in the last few weeks, but nothing about Cardiff or training, only really about working out with a personal trainer, so no clues there. Nothing from the club or on his agent’s website either, so we’re in the dark a bit really. I have to say it would be slightly odd if we have released him. I’m not his biggest fan by any means, but he’s no worse than Matthew Rees and he’s 10 years younger. He could’ve been around as a marginally alright backup hooker no problem when Rees retires or leaves this year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
Sneaking in at the end of the story is a bit of very recent Cardiff news. It has been announced the morning after the Montpellier game that Salesi Ma’afu has signed with immediate effect. The Australian was released two days before by Toulon following some off-field disciplinary issues, and Billy Millard has been quick to snap him up. No contract length announced but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t until the end of next season at least.
A very good signing after Tau Filise was destroyed in the tighthead by Montpellier, while Craig Mitchell seems to have severe fitness problems and Dillon Lewis learns his trade. As a non-Welsh qualified player he will be around for the rest of the season, let’s hope he can be the cornerstone of the scrum.