That time of the year is back upon us again, when fans of Welsh professional club rugby are forgotten about and half of our squads head off to the Six Nations. The Pro12 becomes an even more second rate competition than it already is and half of Wales pretend to be rugby fans and know all about Tom James’ Cardiff form this season.
From an actual Cardiff fan point of view it’s a tricky time to be a rugby supporter as obviously you are disappointed to lose the players mainly, but there’s also a part of you pleased to see the players who are performing so well for the club being rewarded at international level. So this article is more of a celebration one, I’ll do a moaning one another time.
Most of our players selected by Warren Gatland were fairly predictable, with Sam Warburton as captain, despite his lack of match fitness. Gethin Jenkins is also there looking to add to his record breaking 119 caps, having already made over 10 Cardiff appearances for the ninth season. Not bad for a Wales player.
In the backs, Lloyd Williams is selected probably to play backup to Gareth Davies again at scrum-half. Whether it’s from a biased point of view I don’t know, but I think he should be starting ahead of Davies on current form. Joining Williams in the half-backs quota is Gareth Anscombe. The Kiwi-born back was always going to be included with Gatland a big fan and being on a National Dual Contract, although he is likely to feature more at full-back than fly-half.
Also in the ‘certainties’ section of the squad are Alex Cuthbert, who despite being very short of form still, is in the Gatland club so gets in still. Just inside him is Cory Allen, probably the third best centre available at the moment with Scott Williams injured, who will be looking to make up for the injury suffered against Uruguay at the start of the World Cup.
From those lads who were shoe-ins for a Six Nations berth to the less likely, although no less deserving. Tom James is having a fantastic season for Cardiff, with 11 tries in all competitions already. Despite this, there was some who thought an incident six years ago, where he left the Wales squad due to not being picked by Gatland, might scupper his chances. James’ form though is just too good to ignore, and he is in contention to start on the wing over the next few weeks.
Joining James is Kristian Dacey, with the hooker again being inolved as third choice behind Scott Baldwin and Ken Owens. If they both stay fit there is a small chance we may see Dacey back in blue over the next few weeks, but unfortunately it’s more likely he’ll be consigned to tackle bag holding and drinks carrying.
Someone who we may see back though is Josh Turnbull. He has been rightfully called up to reward his consistently high level shown for Cardiff but is likely to join Dacey in the tackle bag holding, then be released to us as with Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, James King and Ross Moriarty ahead of him he’s not going to have much playing time barring injury.
So a strong Cardiff representation in the Wales squad this year, giving us fair scope to cry about how little money we have in return for supplying internationals, if we were Ospreys with rubbish slogans for our side. Also a nod to Matthew Morgan, the future Cardiff blue from next season, who has been called up as well. However, we’re not done there with internationals.
Firstly, Blaine Scully and Cameron Dolan have jetted to America this week to take part in the inaugral Americas Rugby Championship, a Six Nations-format event competed in by USA, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. All the news coming out of Cardiff and America is that they will only be available for the first week, and hopefully that is the case, but we shall wait and see.
Finally, there is strong Cardiff representation in the Wales U20 squad in their junior Six Nations team with no less than nine players involved. Dillon Lewis and Jarrod Evans, who have both been heavily involved in the first team this season, are included, alongisde Elis-Wyn Benham, the top A side try scorer and one-time Pro12 bench-sitter. Corey Domachowski, Kieron Assirratti, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Morgan Sieniawski and Harri Millard have also been involed with the A side this season. They are joined by Cardiff RFC loosehead Rob Lewis who was a late injury call-up.
Good luck to all Cardiff players involved in internationals over the next few weeks. Just remember, don’t get injured!!!!