Cardiff Blues have moved quickly to tie down both a leader and future star of the squad, although there remains no sign of a new head coach being appointed.
Scrum-half Lloyd Williams has signed on to extend his stay, with his current contract due to run out at the end of the season, while promising centre/winger Owen Lane has put pen to paper on a first professional deal with the club.
28-year-old Williams turned down interest from Scarlets and a host of English sides to remain at the Arms Park for at least his 10th season next campaign. With 151 appearances for Cardiff Blues under his belt he is an experienced squad member, and has captained the side on a number of occasions.
“I’m really happy to have signed a new deal. We managed to get it over the line the other day and I’m pleased it’s done and looking forward to the future,” Lloyd told the Cardiff Blues official website.
“I wanted to remain in Wales, that’s the best thing for me and I’m very happy at the club – I have some of my best mates beside me and I feel it’s a really strong team with a lot of optimism. It was always the case that if I was staying in Wales then I wanted to stay here at the Cardiff Blues.
“There’s a lot of potential here, it’s the capital city region, brilliantly located and the most important thing is the people in the building. Over the last six months we’ve seen yet another great crop of youngsters behind the others, it feels like it’s constant stream which is great for the club.
“We have shown in the past how strong we can be, it’s just a case of consistency and keeping a healthy squad. I’m really looking forward to kicking on here.”
Lane meanwhile joins the professional ranks at just 19 after making a try-scoring Guinness Pro14 debut against Connacht at the end of November.
Despite appearing in a pre-season friendly against Bristol just over two years ago, it’s been a carefully managed development process for the Cardiff native, encapsulating Cardiff RFC, the British and Irish Cup and the Anglo-Welsh Cup, before spending a large part of last season with the Wales 7s setup.
Although he has appeared only on the wing for the first team so far, Lane’s long-term future likely lies at outside centre. He is just pleased to be getting minutes for now though, telling the OS, “when I came off the pitch, I couldn’t help but smile because I’ve wanted to play for Cardiff Blues since I was young.
“I’ve played through all the age-grades so I was just happy to get the opportunity to play. Any opportunity that comes my way now, I’ll do my best to take a bite of it.
“Danny has always said, when these opportunities come you have to take it. The likes of Jarrod Evans, Dillon Lewis, Rhun Williams, who I live with at the moment, when you see boys like that taking their opportunities it gives you that motivation and something to strive towards.
“I want to play my rugby at 13, but I want to play for Cardiff Blues so I’d play anywhere in order to get into the team, it doesn’t bother me at this level. Hopefully I can push myself into the 13 spot if I can keep performing.”
A proud day for Cardiff Blues and the development pathway, particularly for Cowbridge Comprehensive with both players having come through their WRU College League side. Now just the matter of sorting someone to coach them next season…