Team Report: Fly-Half

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With the scrum-halves looked at yesterday, we now move on to their half-back partners, and assess who will be pulling the strings for Cardiff Blues next season.

Of course, one name who isn’t within the fly-half ranks anymore is Gareth Anscombe, as the Wales fly-half moves on to Ospreys after four seasons at the Arms Park, a blow for any team to lose a player of his quality.

However, in Jarrod Evans we have a highly capable replacement, someone who will be playing regularly for Wales in a few years and is already a favourite with Cardiff Blues supporters, having only really been a regular first team fixture over the last two seasons.

He already has 62 appearances and 283 points under his belt at just 23-years-old, with a playing style that seems to take the best of past and modern traits.

The way Jarrod swerves past defenders is very reminiscent of fly-halves in the 70s, and I’m particularly thinking of Phil Bennett’s sidesteps in the build-up to ‘that’ Gareth Edwards try, when he slices through defensive lines.

Jarrod Evans Glasgow
Jarrod Evans is going to be the main man at fly-half next season

On the flip side though, his manipulation of defences and ability to create and put team-mates into space is an aspect of his play that isn’t just modern, but something which puts him ahead of the game in many circumstances.

The subtle movement of his hands, shoulders and hips, combined with his confidence to go to the gain line and make things happen, are all key aspects of his play, and we will need Jarrod fit and firing if we are to achieve success this coming season.

Joining him in the fly-half ranks next season will be Jason Tovey, as the 30-year-old returns for a second spell at Cardiff Blues, six years after leaving one year into a two year contract last time.

Older and wiser now, he will provide the experience and game management that 12 years playing top flight professional rugby brings, having made 226 appearances across spells with us, Dragons and Edinburgh.

A reliable left boot will be heavy utilised both in open play and off the tee, with Tovey’s role likely to be that of ‘the finisher’, coming off the bench for Jarrod Evans hopefully to see out plenty of victories next season.

Jason Tovey Dragons
Jason Tovey will provide cover at fly-half

After Evans and Tovey though, fly-half joins loosehead and second row as an area that is obviously lacking in depth, with Steven Shingler having also departed towards the end of last season, while Ben Jones was released from the senior academy.

There are other youngsters coming through with Rhys Davies training full-time with the senior squad this pre-season having played a number of times for Premiership champions Merthyr in the second half of last season, with the coaches keeping a close eye on his development.

Ben Thomas is also in the conversation after a hugely impressive season with Cardiff RFC last year showing off his undoubted talents, although whether he is brought through as an inside centre, where he played with the Blue and Blacks, or as a fly-half, where he is also comfortable remains to be seen.

Matthew Morgan and Dan Fish can both be utilised as cover, with Morgan having come through the system as a 10 and led Wales U20 to victory over New Zealand U20 at fly-half, while Fish has pulled the strings for Cardiff RFC on a number of occasions over the last 18 months.

In an ideal world though we would have another senior fly-half on the books, should one of Jarrod Evans and Jason Tovey get injured. Fingers crossed they don’t!

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