The conundrum of the regional rugby supporter

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As Warren Gatland and his coaching team prepare to name the 31-man squad that will travel to Japan for the Rugby World Cup, debate is as rife as ever on social media.

Wyn Jones or Rhys Carre? Is a risk taken on Cory Hill? Who goes if he is left at home? Two scrum-halves? Rhys Patchell or Jarrod Evans, or both? Scott Williams or Owen Watkin? Hallam Amos or Owen Lane, or neither?

There are plenty of questions being asked, plenty of answers being offered, and once the squad is named there will no doubt be further debating points and even more opinions on show.

For a lot of regional rugby supporters though, there will be a hidden aspect to some of that debating, the internal quandary of wanting to see players from the team you support do well at the international level, but not wanting to see your team severely weakened for the first two months of the season.

There is no better example of that than at Cardiff Blues, where you will struggle to find a single supporter who does not think Jarrod Evans has enough talent to play at the top level, and who does not want him to succeed.

The young fly-half is one of the most exciting players to have graced the Arms Park, as well as being one of the nicest and most down-to-earth bloke off-the-field, quickly becoming a supporter favourite on the terraces.

Unfortunately Evans had a really tough 40 minutes against Ireland yesterday, struggling behind an under-performing pack with some poor service from a severely off-form scrum-half.

Jarrod Evans Ireland
Jarrod Evans had a tough first international start

However, there is still a hope that he will make the World Cup squad on the strength of his form last season and his ability in training, where he reportedly caught the eye of the coaches with his skills.

Everyone at the Arms Park wants to see Jarrod progress and thrive on the international scene, but at the same time there is an awareness that should he find himself packing for Japan this week, Cardiff Blues will suddenly be facing an even steeper task early in the season.

With Gareth Anscombe having departed at the end of last season it would leave us with only Jason Tovey as a senior fly-half, with cover coming in the form of either academy fly-half Rhys Davies, young professional Ben Thomas who is currently seen as more of an inside centre, or the likes of Dan Fish or Matthew Morgan stepping up from full-back.

Going to South Africa and Glasgow, amongst other games, will be tough enough as it is, without losing our first choice 10, a worry that we are currently trying to subdue.

One of Hallam Amos or Owen Lane could also be on the plane to Japan should Gatland select them as the final back three player, depriving us of another high quality international player.

Of course we are all aware of the fact that we are part of the development pathway, and that supplying players to the Wales squad is worth money from the Welsh Rugby Union, but it doesn’t stop those selfish thoughts rearing their heads from time-to-time.

The squad announcement is awaited with great excitement, for the players as well as the supporters, but secretly it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Cardiff Blues got a strong contingent back for the start of the season!

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