The 2019/20 Cardiff Blues squad has now properly taken shape after recruitment and retention, and preparations begin for the upcoming campaign.
Although there may well be some additions in the period after the Rugby World Cup, this is the group of players that is set to move through pre-season and into the early part of the Guinness Pro14, which starts at the end of the first week of pool stage games.
New faces come in the form of Will Boyde, Jason Tovey, Josh Adams and Hallam Amos, as well as technically Rory Thornton, who is now a permanent member of the squad rather than a loan signing from the Ospreys, while Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham step up from the academy after signing professional contracts.
Meanwhile there have been a number of departures, as Rhys Carre, George Earle, Sion Bennett, Gareth Anscombe, Jack Roberts, Tom James, Blaine Scully and Tom Williams have all headed for pastures new, Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Sam Warburton have retired, while Steve Shingler, Samu Manoa and Anton Peikrishvili left during the course of last season.
There has also been a change in the coaching setup as Jason Strange has departed as backs and attack coach, to be replaced by Richie Rees who has been promoted from his role within the Cardiff Blues Academy.
It is a 41-man senior squad, down on the 46 players who made up the 2018/19 playing squad, with the senior academy squad set to be named shortly to bolster the ranks.
A number of these players will likely be involved in Cardiff Blues A’s Celtic Cup campaign during August and September, before taking us through the Guinness Pro14, with the internationals involved in World Cup duty returning between late October and late November depending on the progress of their respective countries.
It’s a squad with serious depth in some areas, and obvious weakness in others, but if a game plan can be devised to suit the strengths we will undoubtedly have, Cardiff Blues could have a successful campaign as the World Cup throws the season up in the air.