Mulvihill looks to lock down some engine room additions

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With John Mulvihill’s contract as Cardiff Blues head coach officially commencing today, June 1st, there is now an expectation that signings for the 2018/19 season will start being announced shortly.

After have a look at some of the possible players we could pick up from the Dragons, as well as the tighthead shopping list, we now move on to the area that I think all Cardiff Blues supporters agree needs strengthening, the second row.

With Damian Welch’s departure after last season, we are left with just George Earle, Seb Davies and James Down as senior second rows, with Callum Bradbury and Ben Murphy coming through the ranks, and Josh Turnbull and Macauley Cook able to cover from the back row.

George Earle Newcastle
George Earle is one senior second row, but is prone to injury

Therefore second row has become a priority for Mulvihill, with options looked at both at home and overseas. We start though with some names that have already been linked, but are seemingly off the table as things stand.

There was much publicity when Luke Charteris was removed from this summer’s Wales squad, along with other English based players, as it was felt to be a tactical move by the WRU to force them to ply their club trade in Wales. As a result of that, the huge lock was rumoured to be considering the Cardiff Blues despite being under contract with Bath.

Although it wasn’t revealed how any transfer fee would be met, the player did have discussions with club representatives, however has decided to stay in the West country for the remainder of his contract, probably wise considering the player’s self confessed aversion to plastic pitches.

Luke Charteris Wales
Luke Charteris has widely publicised the fact his knees oppose plastic pitches

Another name linked was Lloyd Ashley, with the Ospreys second row believed to be in demand as Cardiff Blues and Dragons chased his signature. That would be dependent on Ospreys releasing him from his contract a year early though, and it appears as if that is now not going to happen.

Instead there is another name from a Welsh club linked, with Tom Price of the Scarlets rumoured to be considering a move east to the capital.

The 6ft8 Welsh-qualified Leicester product has been at Parc y Scarlets for three seasons now, making 41 appearances in that time, and could be the lineout operator that Mulvihill is looking for.

However, he only signed a new deal with the Pro14 runners-up last season, as it seems that Cardiff Blues will have to pay a bit extra to secure a decent second row no matter where we look.

Tom Price Scarlets
Cardiff Blues will have to buy out Tom Price unless he is released

There are names linked from overseas as well. Lubabalo Mtyanda is better known as ‘Giant’ in South African rugby circles, and the 32-year-old has been talked about as a possible target for Cardiff Blues.

The current Southern Kings lock has been about a bit in the South African game, playing for the Elephants, Lions, Eagles and Pumas in what is currently called the Currie Cup, as well as turning out for the Sharks in Super Rugby.

As well as Giant, there has been the now obligatory Australian linked with joining Mulvihill at Cardiff Blues, with Sam Carter the name rumoured to be making the trip North.

Sam Carter Brumbies
It would be seen as a coup for Cardiff Blues to pick up Sam Carter

Carter has been with the Brumbies since his Super Rugby career started in 2011, and the 28-year-old has won 16 Australia caps along the way, but having not been involved with the Wallabies since last season and being left out again this summer, his World Cup chances are fading.

Still though, as we move to within three months of the 2018/19 season commencing, Cardiff Blues are keeping their new signing cards close to their chest as supporters patiently wait to find out who will be boosting our squad.

Great things come to those who wait? I hope so.

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