With the 2018/19 season now done and dusted after last weekend’s defeat at Judgement Day attention is quickly drawn upon Cardiff Blues’ planning for next season.
After an encouraging start of contract renewals and then the signing of Josh Adams and Hallam Amos it seemed as if a competitive squad was really starting to take shape for the 2019/20 campaign.
However, Project Reset slowed things down dramatically and did not increase wage budgets at all, leaving Cardiff Blues with the same £6m playing budget that we have operated on for the past two years or so.
During the pause for Reset, bright young talent Rhys Carre was poached by Saracens, and in the aftermath the world of wage bandings saw us lose Gareth Anscombe to Ospreys just a week before the final game of the season.
While a number of young prospects have re-signed, we are still waiting for some senior players to commit their futures, and without them the squad is looking very bare heading into season.
Obviously the Nick Williams situation has been well documented over the last few days, and the club are working to get that resolved as they appeal once again to the Professional Rugby Board, but there are others we could do with signing up as well.
Rhys Gill has become a priority now after the departure of Rhys Carre, otherwise Brad Thyer and Corey Domachowski will be the only contracted senior loosehead props on the books ahead of pre-season.
The 32-year-old had received no contract offer as of a few weeks ago, and was considering retirement to focus on his flooring company with former Cardiff Blues hooker Ross Johnston, but it is believed he has been convinced to re-sign with the club.
Another front rower it is key to tie down is Joey Tomlinson, who as Cardiff RFC captain is employed by Cardiff Blues Limited on a part-time basis, but we now should be signing as a full-time professional.
The 26-year-old, who came through the Cardiff Blues academy and has played for the Cardiff Blues Premiership Select, has earned rave reviews for his performances and leadership as the Blue and Blacks won the WRU National Cup and challenged for a Principality Premiership title.
He has had offers of professional rugby from elsewhere, but with Cardiff Blues losing Matthew Rees and struggling to nail down a second choice behind Kris Dacey, it is well worth giving a chance to Tomlinson this summer.
Moving back slightly and there are still rumours regarding the future of George Earle despite the fact he only signed a new deal with the club last summer.
No confirmation has been had that he is out of contract, but tying down the 32-year-old for at least next year will be key given the experience and physicality he brings to an otherwise young and lightweight looking pack.
Alongside him Rory Thornton is still due to return to the Ospreys this summer with no definite news that his loan deal has become permanent, despite strong murmurings suggesting the Welsh international will stay at the Arms Park.
With Seb Davies and James Down being the only other out-and-out senior second rows in the squad the re-signing of this pair is fairly crucial, as well as working on converting Macauley Cook to lock full-time, and bringing through Callum Bradbury and Ben Murphy.
The final player is perhaps a name that you wouldn’t have expected to see in this article with Lewis Jones, having only made two first team starts since the beginning of the 2015/16 season.
However, with Dane Blacker almost certainly moving on to the Scarlets, and Tomos Williams likely to be away with Wales for much of next season, the experience of Jones as a scrum-half bench option is going to be required regularly.
There is excitement about the potential of young Jamie Hill, who started twice for Wales U20s before getting injured in the U20 Six Nations, but having Jones there as well will add some resilience to the squad.