So the news is finally out there and confirmed that Alex Cuthbert will be leaving Cardiff Blues at the end of the season, with his destination being the Aviva Premiership high-flyers Exeter Chiefs.
It may seem weird to say, but I am absolutely chuffed to see Cuthy secure such a good move for the next three years. He deserves the opportunity to show what he can do in a quality league, the chance to earn a decent pay packet, and to get out of the goldfish bowl that is Welsh rugby.
Now, obviously, the flip side to the move is that I am gutted to be losing a player of Cuthbert’s quality from the Cardiff Blues squad. 112 appearances in the jersey, 45 tries over seven seasons, those are not the stats of an average player.
However, although all Cardiff Blues supporters want the side to do well and be as successful as we can be, I also like to think we pride ourselves on looking past that for the benefit of the players as individuals.
Financials aside, in an ideal world for us as supporters there would be no Cardiff Blues players involved in any Autumn Internationals and Six Nations squads, so that we could retain maximum strength in these periods. Any player that is selected always goes with our best wishes to play at the top level of rugby union though.
In this case it is almost more personal for Cardiff Blues supporters, in a way that Scarlets fans may recognise with Rhys Priestland a few years ago. For too long now Alex Cuthbert has been the fall guy for the two months a year Wales fans who feel the need to look for a scapegoat every week.
He has scored 16 tries in 47 test matches, one every three games, but there are some people out there who would find themselves unable to accept he is a top quality player.
It’s a different story at the Arms Park though where, perhaps due to the unfair stick he gets in a red jersey as well as his exploits for us, Cuthbert has become a cult hero on the terraces.
If there was ever a point-in-case, it was the Benetton Treviso home game last season.
The previous week Cuthbert had started on the wing for Wales against England at the Millennium Stadium in the Six Nations. A tight match was settled by a late Elliot Daly try in the corner as the English snatched victory in Cardiff.
That try came from a loose Jon Davies kick which failed to find touch as he rushed to clear his lines, but it was Cuthbert who copped the majority of the flak as it was him who Daly rounded last to score the match-winning try. A very unfair situation seeing as the winger was left stranded by the kick that failed to find touch.
With a social media storm hanging over him, Cuthy was named to start for Cardiff Blues against Treviso the very next week, and produced an absolute stormer of a performance. Carrying 11 times for 153 metres, the big horse brilliant set up Willis Halaholo’s try before grabbing one of his own courtesy of a powerful midfield break.
When the time comes to look back on the famous performances at the Arms Park there will be many notable inclusions, and joining them will be Alex Cuthbert v Treviso on a random Saturday in February.
A game that should have been anonymous, but was lit up by one of the best wingers the old ground has seen, and one who had a massive amount of heart to go with it. That cheer as Cuthy crossed for his try was a very special moment.
Despite that consistent good form for Cardiff Blues over the last few years, the Team Wales eventers have clearly knocked his confidence, and Cuthbert has decided now is the perfect time to expand his rugby playing horizons. It is difficult to blame him.
Exeter are getting a very good player for their money, who will be available all year round, and will slot in well with the Chiefs style of play. It’s a no brainer for them, and a great chance for Cuthy to show what we can do on a new stage.
I wish him nothing but the best in his time at Sandy Park and, just like our last flying winger who headed to the South-West, the door is always open for a return. Good luck Cuthy!