When Dan Fish announced over the weekend that he was hanging up his professional boots the Arms Park lost one of it’s favourite sons from the top level of rugby.
At times it can feel like the full-back isn’t appreciated as much as he should be, with tongue-in-cheek comments about Fishy being called up to every Wales squad or the answer to any Cardiff injury problems, but they come from a background that only those who have watched the master at work can understand; the man can do everything.
Certainly from the point that the 30-year-old broke into the Blue and Blacks squad back in late 2010 until his serious hamstring injury in November 2016, Fish was on a serious rise through the ranks of Welsh rugby as he gained more and more plaudits.
He didn’t particularly burst on to the scene, spending his first four years sitting behind Leigh Halfpenny and largely being wheeled out during international windows, but by the time the Lions full-back headed for Toulon in 2014 the local lad was ready to step up.
The 2015/16 season was a breakout campaign for the 25-year-old Fish as he made 26 appearances and scored nine tries, starting to show off a game understanding to match his undoubted speed and cultured left boot that saw him make the run/pass/kick decisions at a higher level, as well as stepping up into the attacking line and starting to dictate play.
Having been involved in the 2014 Probables v Possibles match in the run-up to Wales’ 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign it wouldn’t have been beyond the realms of possibility to imagine that he could have pushed to be involved in the summer tour of 2017 when the Lions were away in New Zealand, should a 2016/17 campaign have followed 15/16.
However the hamstring tear suffered away in Connacht would effectively keep him out of action for two years once associated injuries were sorted, with suggestions at some point that he would not return at all, and when he did eventually get back the searing turn of pace had been taken down a notch or two leaving others to jump ahead in the 15 jersey pecking order.
As one door closes multiple others open, in the case of Dan Fish though, so after 112 first team appearances for Cardiff his professional boots are hung up but his contribution to the club will continue with the combination of three roles.
Firstly, he is an academy skills coach working with the rising stars at the club to go from age grade rugby up to the senior professional level, a particularly crucial role in a period of our history where fast-paced and expansive rugby is the order of the day for Dai Young’s squad.
Secondly, he is Cardiff RFC backs/attack coach, getting stuck into week-to-week coaching at the highest level so far having previously coached at St Albans, Cardiff & Vale College and Glamorgan Wanderers.
And, last but by no means least, he will continue to play for the Rags, bringing his undoubted quality to the field at that level and being able to experience in-game situations with the players he is coaching as well as offering advice and leadership on the pitch.
After 11 years of service to the club on the field it is a new chapter for Fish, but arguably one that will be even more important to Cardiff Rugby. The quality of his rugby brain is unmatched, so for the future Blue and Blacks to be benefitting from that is an exciting prospect for the Arms Park.
Above all though he’s a Kairdiff boy done good.