Class of 2017: Where are they now?

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With the confirmation that just three players are currently leaving the Cardiff Blues this summer, it seems like the right time to check up on how last season’s leavers have got on since departing the Arms Park.

Danny Wilson let nine players walk out the door at the end of the 2016/17 campaign altogether, with destinations ranging from New Zealand, to New York, and Merthyr.

Jarrad Hoeata

After an excellent second half of last season many people were disappointed to see second row Hoeata move on after three years at the Arms Park, especially when the signing of Franco van der Merwe fell through.

Since his departure, the New Zealand international has returned home to be part of the North Harbour side that made the semi-finals of the Mitre 10 Cup and has represented the Maori All Blacks on their November tour.

At the culmination of that tour he returned to the northern hemisphere as a medical joker at Montpellier, and has played a key role in helping Les Cistes to the Top14 semi-finals.

In news that won’t surprise many Cardiff Blues fans though, Hoeata has managed to pick up a red card in the short time he has been in France.

Jarrad Hoeata v Connacht
Jarrad Hoeata became a fan favourite at the Arms Park

Cory Allen

Cardiff Blues academy gradate Allen made the move West to the Ospreys last summer after six years as a senior player at the Arms Park. With the final two years of those plagued by injury, the centre decided it was time to head for pastures new to kick-start his career.

The move to the Liberty Stadium seemed to be going well for the now 25-year-old, with eight appearances between September and December, however, a pectoral injury continued his nightmare run of fitness and ruled him out for five months.

He did make a return to action in the final game of the season against Ulster, but limped off after coming on as a substitute in Belfast and will now be hoping once again that he can get fully fit during this off-season.

Cory Allen Pau 1
Cory Allen was a fine player before the injuries hit

Cam Dolan

American international number eight Dolan failed to really make an impact at the Arms Park, thanks in part to the restriction on non-Kolpak players meaning that more often than not he could not be included in European competition matchday squads.

After making 28 appearances between Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC, Dolan returned to the States to play for Old Blue RFC, based in New York, in the American Rugby Premiership.

With the commencement of Major League Rugby in American, Dolan has since signed for the San Diego Legion and added eight USA Eagles caps to his collection in the hope of playing at next year’s World Cup.

Cam Dolan Worcester
Cam Dolan’s nationality restricted his game time

Marc Thomas

Loosehead prop Thomas was one of the army of ringers who were signed during the great Cardiff Blues injury crisis of 2016/17, but the emergence of Corey Domachowski from the academy saw him restricted to just six minutes of Pro12 action.

With four years experience at Ospreys, as well as a stint at Jersey Reds on his CV, Thomas was able to secure a contract with Yorkshire Carnegie in the English Championship and has made 19 appearances for the Leeds-based side as they finished mid-table in the second tier competition.

Pele Cowley

Another member of the ringer army, the Samoan scrum-half went one step further than Marc Thomas by not actually making his Pro12 debut due to the dominance of Tomos and Lloyd Williams in the nine and 23 jerseys.

Still a popular addition in the squad though Cowley headed back to New Zealand where he has since played for Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup and Hamilton Old Boys in the Waikato Premier Division.

Cowley has also added another Manu Samoa cap to his collection, starting against Scotland during the last November internationals.

Pele Cowley BIC
Pele Cowley’s only outings came in development cup competitions

James Sheekey

Former Wales U20 number eight Sheekey technically didn’t actually leave last summer, just switched from a Cardiff Blues registered player to a Cardiff RFC registered player, but after just three games in the Premiership he was picked up the Dragons.

Seven appearances followed between November and January for the Rodney Parade based side, but Sheekey did not play at all in the last three months of the season, possibly due to the injuries which plagued his time at the Arms Park.

Sheekey wasn’t included in the official list of leavers that Dragons published at the end of the season and is still listed on their website’s squad page, therefore may well be still at Rodney Parade next season.

James Sheekey Exeter
James Sheekey has the qualities to make it at the professional level without injuries

Liam Belcher

Another former Wales U20 player, hooker Belcher followed a similar career trajectory to James Sheekey after leaving the Cardiff Blues setup, signing for Pontypridd and briefly playing Premiership rugby until being snapped up by Bernard Jackman.

Despite scoring five tries in 15 appearances and doing battle with Elliott Dee for the number two jersey at the Dragons, the 22-year-old was on the list of released players at the end of the season, with the rumour being that Belcher will return to the Arms Park in the new U23 squad next season.

Liam Belcher Pontypridd
Liam Belcher could be on his way back to the Arms Park this summer

Morgan Sieniawski

Back rower Sieniawski was released by Cardiff Blues last summer despite representing Wales in the Junior World Championship, as he was deemed not big enough to make the step up to the professional game.

After that he signed for hometown club Pontypridd, alongside his brother Jordan, where he has been a key member of the Valley Commandos side that has finished third in the Principality Premiership this season.

Morgan Sieniawski Rags
Morgan Sieniawski played most of his rugby for Cardiff RFC while in the Cardiff Blues academy

Terri Gee

The final young player who was released last summer, winger Gee made a permanent move to reigning Principality Premiership champions Merthyr where he had previously been allocated to from the Cardiff Blues.

Gee did start the first two games of the season for the Ironmen, but suffered a serious knee injury and underwent an operation on his anterior crucial ligament back in October which has ruled him out for the entire season.

Terri Gee Worcester
Terri Gee’s knee injury has seen him out of action for seven months so far

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