It was announced earlier in the month that Cory Allen is due to move on from his time at Cardiff Blues and join up with West Wales rivals Ospreys come the summer when his current contract expires.
The outside centre has been with the club since joining the academy setup having played junior and youth rugby for first Dinas Powys RFC and then Glamorgan Wanderers. To date he has made 56 appearances since making his debut in the Anglo-Welsh Cup back in October 2011, going on to make his Pro12 bow the following season before 2013/14 was his real breakout year.
He has struggled with injuries since then though, requiring two surgeries during 2015/16 on his ankle and groin, making just six appearances. After trying unsuccessfully to make the Great Britain Olympic 7s squad, also due to injury, he was back in the Cardiff team at the start of this season, starting the opening four unbeaten games.
Things did not go to plan though as he was noticeably off form while the rest of the team kicked on, eventually being dropped for Garyn Smith. He was brought back in for the first European games where he scored two tries against Pau, but it did little to improve his performances in the Pro12 when he was hauled off against the Scarlets.
He didn’t play again for almost two months before being called up to cover on the wing during December’s injury crisis, but found himself sidelined again as players returned to fitness, and hasn’t played in the first team since early January, instead turning out in the Anglo-Welsh and British and Irish competitions.
This week he has headed off to Vancouver to join up with the Wales 7s squad, but I’d like to put to bed any murmurs of a falling out within the club. Allen has merely taken a chance to get some fitness and play 7s which he has enjoyed previously. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, is this the correct decision to let a young, homegrown centre go from Cardiff? In my opinion, yes. I understand some may have concerns, especially with Cory heading off to a local Pro12 rival, but there is a bigger picture to be looked at.
Firstly, it’s obviously not a secret that Allen is woefully out of form. He’s running all the old angles that proved so successful as he burst onto the scene a few years ago, but the ball just isn’t sticking for him, while his ability to carry out his trademark grubber kick into the corner has deserted him somewhat.
As well as that, the injuries appear to have cost him a yard of pace, understandably given the nature of them, but it’s taken some of the dynamism away from his game and I don’t think the psychological aspect of playing on the plastic pitch is helping with that.
All in all he’s not performing to his potential at the moment, and it doesn’t seem like he is going to rediscover it in a blue shirt, especially with Cardiff moving to sign young Jack Roberts from Leicester, while Willis Halaholo, Rey Lee-Lo and Steve Shingler are also in the ranks. The game time just isn’t going to be there for him.
With that in mind it would be pointless for Cardiff to keep Allen in the ranks when he would struggle to be effective when called having not had the game time he needs, or just to stop Ospreys having him. A waste of money and unfair on the player himself.
The dilemma for the management has effectively boiled down to sticking with Cory, or moving onto Jack Roberts. With the Leicester centre still young, arriving after a promising season at Welford Road, and desperate to prove a point to the Team Wales setup and Scarlets, who released him when younger, it’s a good decision on paper.
He offers the ability to operate at 12 or 13, has a power side to his game coupled with some intricate footwork and is a solid defender. Whether all that will translate into good performances we will wait and see, but I’d suggest there’s a better chance of him making an impression at Cardiff next season than Allen.
For Cory a change of scenery will no doubt do him the world of good. New facilities, new coaches and new challenges to re-focus his mind, and sincerely hope he gets a chance to reach his undoubted potential at Ospreys, although he’ll face a battle with James Hook, Ashley Beck, Owen Watkin, Kieron Fonotia and Kieran Williams.
This may sound odd given all that I’ve written above, ‘why don’t Cardiff give him the chance?’, but as above, at this moment in time it’s right for both parties for him to move on. That’s partly why I’ve written this piece, so that in a few years if Allen is firing on all cylinders in Swansea, we can look back on this piece and remind ourselves why he left.
The other reason is to wish Allen himself all the best. He’s been a great servant of the club over the time he has been here, and I sincerely hope he can find his mojo again. Good luck Cory!