Three to watch as the A sides get going

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A new era kicks off at Cardiff Metropolitan University tomorrow as Cardiff Blues A take on Scarlets A in a friendly ahead of the new Celtic Cup competition that is set to begin next month.

With the teams now announced, I’ve teamed up with Scarlets HQ, who you can also find on Twitter @ScarletsHQ, to have a look at three players to keep an eye on in each team.

Rhys Carre

A lot has been written about the young loosehead, but such is his talent there is nothing that’s not worth writing again!

The 6ft3 almost 20st prop has earned rave reviews throughout the last two season spent with the Wales U20s setup, earning 20 caps across two U20 Six Nations and two Junior World Championships, with pundits impressed by his scrum power.

Carre is also an equally adept ball carrier though, and improving his breakdown skills under the tutelage of loosehead legend Gethin Jenkins. In his first year as a full-time senior professional, the 20-year-old will be a key member of the Cardiff Blues A squad this season.

Carre_240217_CF_Scotland_v_Wales_rdax_1195x700_80
Rhys Carre on the charge for Wales U20

Ben Jones

Talented fly-half Jones is another who has been involved with the Wales U20 setup for the last two years, scoring 83 points in 13 appearances, although his time at the Junior World Championship this summer was cut short by injury.

Now back to full fitness he has all the raw talent to be a top class fly-half. Naturally attack-minded his first instinct is to move towards the gain line, bringing people into play outside or making a solo line break with the speed of a former schoolboy sprinter.

As you’d expect from a 19-year-old his game management requires work, but with a cultured left foot he can put pressure on the opposition with his boot as much as his legs.

Cameron Lewis

Centre is a very competitive area at the Cardiff Blues currently, with Willis Halaholo, Rey Lee-Lo, Garyn Smith and Harri Millard all battling for a starting spot, with Steve Shingler able to cover from fly-half, and Owen Lane and Aled Summerhill looking to step in from the wing.

However, there is another player on the production line of great Cardiff centres as Cameron Lewis looks to make his mark at the professional level after doing his time with Wales U20 and at Pontypridd in the Premiership.

A hard running outside centre with an eye for a group, he is also sound defensively in the nuanced position of 13, and will be looking to use the A team as a springboard to finally make his Pro14 bow for the Blues.

Cameron Lewis
Cameron Lewis has played for Cardiff Blues at every level except first team

And now the Scarlets…

Tomi Lewis

Seemingly flying under the radar compared to Ioan Nicholas, Corey Baldwin and Ryan Conbeer, Lewis looks set to be another example that the production line of outside backs is in rude health.

Tomi has been involved with Llandovery, Wales 7s and Wales u20s in the last year, scoring 5 tries in 8 starts for the Drovers, and 7 tries on debut for Wales 7s in Dubai, including a hattrick vs Uganda.

With blistering pace, a great sidestep and the balance to take him through, Tomi is highly thought of down Parc Y Scarlets and is considered by Wayne Pivac to have the potential to nail down the 15 jersey long term.

Rhys Fawcett

With top quality competition ahead of him in Welsh internationals Rob Evans and Wyn Jones, as well as quality Pro14 operators Phil Price and Dylan Evans, this competition could have been made for Rhys.

Tall and strong, yet mobile for a prop, Fawcett fits into the mould of what most search for in the modern front row, able to hold his own at scrum time and carry around the park. Fawcett was part of Wales’ Grand Slam u20s team of 2016, but often found the starting jersey taken by Cardiff Blues’ Corey Domachowski. Fawcett will look at Domachowski, who has amassed over 30 regional appearances by now, and other members of that same team such as Keelan Giles, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard and Leon Brown who have all achieved more at the same age.

However, Fawcett’s chance to train and play at a far higher level with the ‘A’ team should put him in fantastic stead to kick on.

Corey Domachowski Pau
Corey Domachowski has kicked on ahead of Rhys Fawcett

Tom Phillips

An honourable mention here for Dan Davis, who was superb in the recent Wales u20s team and looks the part as an athletic, fetcher 7. However I go instead to the near forgotten man, ex Wales u20s Captain Tom Phillips.

Affectionately known as ‘Big Tom’ growing up, the man with the beard that almost matches Jake Ball’s is an old-fashioned player, a grafting, hard hitting, do the dirty work 6. A great leader by example, Tom was the captain of the above mentioned 2016 6 Nations Grand Slam team and put in some hard hours at the coalface for the cause.

His aggressive, attritional nature however has led to worrying struggles with concussion. Wisely, his health was put first and an extended rest period was enforced. Whilst some will argue that Tom lacks the athleticism and ball skills of Aaron Shingler and Blade Thomson, the Scarlets’ likely top options at 6 this season, Tom is an extremely valuable player in that he can be a nuisance all day long for opposing teams, hitting carriers, carrying hard himself and using strength and workrate to disrupt teams. It’s great to see Tom back after his long spell with injury.

Thanks to ScarletsHQ for his input on the subject of Saturday’s opposition. The game n Saturday is a 14:30 kick-off at the Cyncoed Campus of Cardiff Met. If you are heading down to take a look at the next generation, here is the full Cardiff Blues A squad.

Cardiff Blues A: Dan Fish, Morgan Griffiths, Cam Lewis, Harri Millard, Tom James, Ben Jones, Dane Blacker; Rhys Carre, Liam Belcher, Keiron Assiratti, James Down, Callum Bradbury, Cai Devine, Macauley Cook, Alun Lawrence (c)

Replacements: Corey Domachowski, Iestyn Harris, Will Davies King, Teddy Williams, Ioan Rhys Davies, Jamie Hill, Alex Varney, Max Llewellyn, Ben Thomas, Dafydd Smith, Aled Summerhill, George Thomas

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