Ospreys and Wales second row Rory Thornton will play for Cardiff Blues next season after making the switch to the capital on a loan move to improve our second row numbers.
The 23-year-old Swansea-born player came through the junior system at Bonymaen RFC before being picked up by the Ospreys and playing for their age grade teams, as well as playing for the Whites of Swansea RFC and Bridgend Ravens in the Principality Premiership.
As a promising youngster he was called into the Wales U20 side, winning 12 caps between 2012 and 2014, captaining the side during the U20 Six Nations and Junior World Championship in his second season.
Since then he has become a regular in the Ospreys side, but hasn’t really kicked on to reach the heights of the Welsh national team on a regular basis.
He has reached 59 appearances for the Liberty Stadium side, with whom he has recently signed a new two-year contract, playing 23 times in 2015/16 and 25 times in 2016/17, and was called into the Wales training squad ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but only has one cap to his name currently, won playing Samoa in Apia last summer.
Thornton’s participation in last season was unfortunately cut short after picking up a dislocated shoulder against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park in the Anglo-Welsh Cup encounter, and he now finds himself behind Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Adam Beard at the Ospreys, with James King and Lloyd Ashley also on hand to play in the second row.
With the Swansea-based side looking to cut some of their wage bill, Thornton requiring regular game time, and Cardiff Blues short on locks, he will now head east to join us ahead of pre-season starting next week, where he will do battle with George Earle, Seb Davies and James Down for a starting spot.
At 6ft7 and 18st he will hopefully provide a physical edge to the pack, as well as being a key player at the set piece in terms of being a lineout jumper and in attacking and defending the rolling maul
Speaking to the official club website, he said, “I need to be playing rugby and Cardiff need a line out forward so this is a great outcome for everyone. It’s a good move for me in the circumstances and I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the squad next week and preparing for an important season.
“I’m grateful to the Ospreys for supporting me like this and also to Cardiff Blues for giving me the opportunity.”
Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill added, “it’s great to welcome a player of Rory’s calibre to the Cardiff Blues. I have met him a few times now and I’ve been impressed with his desire to play international rugby again. He will get his opportunity to do this playing at the Cardiff Blues.
“The support and cooperation by the WRU, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys shows Welsh rugby is heading down a path where their best players will get the opportunity to play every week at the highest level. This collective mindset will ensure strength and depth at a national level going forward.
“From a Cardiff Blues perspective, it is important that we have strength in depth in the position and Rory is exactly the right type of lock to add to what we already have.”