Thornton and Arhip set to stay at the Arms Park

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Cardiff Blues are set to hold on to two players in front five positions for next season as John Mulvihill begins to finalise his 2019/20 squad.

Dmitri Arhip and Rory Thornton both arrived from the Ospreys last summer, and have been heavily involved in first team action, particularly in the second half of the season, with both set to stay at the Arms Park beyond the end of the current campaign.

30-year-old Arhip was a somewhat chance signing after a move to Montpellier failed to materialise following the news that he could not play in the French Top14 on medical grounds. By then the Ospreys had already moved to replace him, so Cardiff Blues offered him a contract after undertaking a late recruitment drive.

The tighthead prop has made 13 appearances this season, battling it out with Welsh international Dillon Lewis and overcoming a groin injury that kept him out for a few weeks, as the scrum has improved noticeably from last year.

He initially signed on a one-year deal but it transpires that the contract had the option of a second year written into it which has been activated meaning he will stay until next summer.

Thornton, on the other hand, was a more understandable signing with Ospreys flush for second rows, Cardiff Blues requiring some extra cover in the engine room, and the player looking to boost his playing time and regain form after an injury strewn campaign.

Initially a loan deal, it now seems set that we will sign him permanently with his parent club waiving the final year of his contract at the Liberty Stadium safe in the knowledge that Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Lloyd Ashley, James King and young James Ratti are on their books.

A slow start saw the 24-year-old drop out of the first team squad during October, but injuries have seen him recalled in February and this second chance has sparked some improved performances from the lock, particularly at the lineout and with his defensive work rate.

Whether there are further signings to be made for next season remains to be seen, but I can report that it is currently very slow on the rumour front, with the playing budget very tight indeed.

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