With the new season now approaching at a rapid rate of knots it’s time to confirm exactly what the Cardiff Blues squad will look like during John Mulvihill’s first season in charge at the Arms Park.
Four new faces have been announced as having arrived in the Welsh capital this summer, in the forms of Dmitri Arhip, Jason Harries, Rory Thornton and Samu Manoa, while there were three departures at the end of last season as Alex Cuthbert and Damian Welch headed for pastures new and Taufa’ao Filise brought his career to an end.
Since then Sam Warburton has also decided to retire due to injury, but former Cardiff Blues academy hooker Liam Belcher has re-signed with the club after leaving Dragons last season.
There was a summer coaching re-shuffle too, as Danny Wilson and Matt Sherratt left the club, with Mulvihill bringing in Jason Strange and Tom Smith to join his backroom staff, while Richard Hodges and Duane Goodfield remained to fulfil the other positions.
Altogether there are 46 players who will make up the senior squad next season, slightly up on that of last season courtesy of Corey Domachowski, Kieron Assiratti, Seb Davies, Harri Millard, Rhun Williams and Owen Lane moving up into the first team squad.
Ben Murphy and Olly Robinson both arrived during the course of the 2017/18 campaign, as well as the new signings this summer, to boost the squad size.
These players will be complimented by the Cardiff Blues academy squad, named a few weeks ago, as those 21 players add resilience to the first team and will form the basis upon which the Cardiff Blues U23/A squad will be built around.
With John Mulvihill targeting success in both the Pro14 and on our return to the Heineken Cup the whole squad will have to be utilised, but it’s fair to say it’s the best strength in depth seen at the Arms Park for a good few years.
Over the next few days the ‘Team Report’ will return to the Cardiff Rugby Life, looking at the six areas of the team starting with the front row tomorrow.