The forward focus need to be a focus on the forwards

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Cardiff Blues got their recruitment for next season off to an exciting start this week with the announcements that Josh Adams and Hallam Amos will join the region from next season.

High quality additions to the back three such as these are more than welcome as we look to add some international standard X-factor to our wide options in order to compete regularly in the Heineken Champions Cup.

However, we need some hard-nose forwards coming in to give us that extra bit of grunt up front.

There are two positions in particular that could do with strengthening in my view, and they come from the spine of the forward pack in the form of hooker and second row.

With hooker the loss of Matthew Rees leaves a hole for a strong scrummaging number two to come in and provide an alternative to the open field ability that Kris Dacey currently possesses.

Benetton Kris Dacey
Kris Dacey could do with some competition at hooker

It also provides competition for the starting spot, with Ethan Lewis and Kirby Myhill failing to even nail down the second choice spot, let alone put pressure on Dacey, while Liam Belcher has impressed but is perhaps still a year or two off being a consistent member of the matchday 23.

Having that set piece strength is key to competing at the top end of the Guinness Pro14 and in the top tier of European competition, the Heineken Champions Cup, and it’s a similar story regarding second row recruitment.

Adding weight to the engine room improves the strength of the scrum, as well as adding a physicality to ball carrying and the attacking breakdown.

Samu Manoa was seen as the answer to this particular vacancy before returning to the USA, while George Earle has filled in admirably but has injuries to manage and at 32 needs some help in the row.

George Earle Newcastle
George Earle could do with someone to share the workload with

For me these are the two pressing concerns that are currently obvious, while two other positions wait to hear whether current squad members will still be in place next season.

Number eight is a key position to get right, but if we can convince Nick Williams to extend his career by one more season, potentially by qualifying for the Heineken Champions Cup, then a new eight can be the priority for next season.

Of course there is an ongoing saga around Gareth Anscombe’s contract, but if he does choose to move on then a requirement to bring in a new fly-half will become very pressing indeed, as Jarrod Evans will be the only out-and-out ten in the squad with any first team experience.

With Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins, Samu Manoa, Steve Shingler and the aforementioned Rees all off, or set to be off, the payroll, as well as a few players being released this summer, there should be space in the budget to bring on board a few new faces.

Getting this right is the first huge off-field task for John Mulvihill in his reign as Cardiff Blues head coach. There is a feeling we’re not far off building the best squad we’ve had in years. It may well be now or not for a few years, at least.

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