Cardiff Blues have today confirmed the capture of Moldovan international tighthead Dmitri Arhip from the Ospreys after his proposed moved to Montpellier fell through, making him the first signing under John Mulvihill.
The 29-year-old will link up with the squad at The Vale Resort this summer, extending his stay in Wales beyond the six years he has already spent here, and hopefully get to work strengthening a Cardiff Blues scrum that has seen it’s fair share of dodgy moments over the lasy few years.
Starting his career in his native Moldova, Arhip played for Romanian side CS Dinamo Bucuresti and Enisei-STM of Russia, before joining up with the Ospreys in 2012 and making his debut against his new club as a replacement.
Going on to make 91 appearances across five seasons at the Liberty Stadium, the prop fast become a cult figure down West, with supporters developing a song for ‘Dai Arhip’ as he became affectionately known in and around Swansea.
However, with his contract up this summer, the 20-cap international could not resist the lure of a reported £500,000 a year salary at French Top14 big spenders Montpellier, and signed a pre-contract agreement with the side before saying goodbye to the Ospreys.
It is for this reason that Arhip’s signing for Cardiff Blues is such a surprise, as few people had predicted the Moldovan to be the mystery tighthead prop signing due to his move to France being virtually done and dusted.
The issue, it seems, stems from an injury picked up by the player in December 2016 against Grenoble, when he dislocated a shoulder. This would go on to keep him out of the game for 10 months due to further complications, and has been deemed a G3 injury by the Top14, which prevents him from playing in the league as part of strict rules around the health of players.
With regulations different in the Pro14 though, Cardiff Blues have been able to jump at the chance to sign a player with the quality of Arhip, as transfer dealings were delayed due to the late appointment of John Mulvihill, and the visa issues of Australian prop Salesi Manu.
On signing for Wales’ capital region, Dmitri Arhip told the official website, “I’m really excited to be joining Cardiff Blues at a really positive time for the region and I’m looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
“I have been very impressed with the progress made at the Arms Park in the last couple of seasons, culminating in winning the Challenge Cup.
“It is a really exciting squad with so much young talent coming through and I am looking forward to adding my experience and competing with the other props.
“The conversations I’ve had with John Mulvihill have been really good and I’m excited about the vision he has set out. I also have a good relationship with new forwards coach Tom Smith, who also joins from the Ospreys.”
John Mulvihill added, “We are all thrilled to have signed Dmitri. He has proven himself a world-class tight-head prop both in terms of scrummaging and around the pitch and is the perfect fit for us as we look to strengthen our pack.
“We need to add quality and depth to our squad to compete in both the Guinness PRO14 and the Champions Cup and this is a great start to our recruitment. We remain committed to developing Welsh talent from within but you also need to strike the right balance.
“Dmitri will not only bring a wealth of experience for the entire season but he will have a responsibility to pass on his knowledge to the likes of Dillon Lewis and Kieron Assiratti, who have an abundance of potential.
“I am confident we now have real strength in depth and competition in a vitally important position.”