Team Report: Scrum-Half

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With strengths and weaknesses of the forwards having been looked at last week, we now enter week two of the team report where the backs will be the focus.

We start with the link between forwards and outside backs at scrum-half, where we once again find a legacy of world class players having graced the Arms Park down the years; Terry Holmes, Brynmor Williams, Rex Willis, Rob Howley, and of course the greatest of them all, Sir Gareth Edwards, to name a few.

Currently in the ranks there is a player who has the potential to join those greats, without wishing to put too much pressure on him, as Tomos Williams continues to earn a greater reputation with each passing season.

It was clear when he burst onto the scene at the start of the 2016/17 season that there was something special about this player, with his speedy service, natural attacking instinct, and general self-assurance around the field.

Since then he has continued to develop at a rate of knots, improving his game management skills considerably over the last three seasons, adding a good quality box kick to his repertoire, and developing a spiky edge to his game that has drawn comparisons to Mike Phillips.

Many thought he was a longer term project at international level, but his performances, coupled with the departure of Rhys Webb, have expedited his rise to the red jersey, and he has impressed enough with three tries in seven caps to almost certainly be on the plane to Japan in September

Tomos Williams Ospreys
Tomos Williams has caught the eye at international level

With Tomos away it means Cardiff Blues attention at scrum-half will largely turn to Lloyd Williams next season, who has found game time slightly restricted by the presence of Tomos, but still did enough to be in with a shout of making the Wales pre-World Cup training squad had Warren Gatland opted for four scrum-halves.

Instead though he will be the key nine at the Arms Park for the majority of next season, hoping to build on his good form in the second half of the last campaign where he redeveloped that attacking spark that some felt had got away from his game slightly in the preceding 18 months.

His wealth of experience, as well as two-footed kicking game, will be key as we navigate the World Cup period, trying to gather as much momentum as possible while other teams are without their internationals.

Providing cover during that period will be Lewis Jones, fresh from signing a new contract at Cardiff Blues, and having overcome the hurdles of initially being released at 18, before being re-signed a year later, and then missing most of the 2016/17 season with a serious knee injury.

He returned properly last season though, playing regularly for Cardiff Blues A before featuring in both the Pro14 and Heineken Cup for the first team brining up his 100th appearance off the bench against Lyon in January.

The 26-year-old is seen as a reliable pair of hands in terms of the consistency of his service, and has an eye for a gap, while he can take confidence from John Mulvihill keeping him on board and allowing Dane Blacker to head elsewhere this summer.

lewis jones lyon
Lewis Jones joined the 100 Club against Lyon

With Blacker moving on the attention on the conveyor belt moves to the next player along, and while he may not be known to many Cardiff Blues supporters, the word is that the coaches are quite excited about the potential of Jamie Hill.

Like Jones, Hill was released after playing for Cardiff Blues U18, but some impressive performances for the University of South Wales first XV and Pontypridd RFC saw him brought back into the professional setup last summer.

He featured for Cardiff Blues A and went on to start the opening two games of the U20 Six Nations for Wales U20, before an injury picked up away to Italy U20 effectively ended his season as he underwent surgery.

The 20-year-old is back fit for pre-season now though, and if he can come through unscathed will likely be the starting scrum-half for Cardiff Blues A, before pushing for first team minutes in the early part of the new season.

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