Cardiff Blues will welcome a mix of experienced and promising youngsters to their 2013/14 squad
Having recently won the Heineken Cup with Toulon, Gethin Jenkins will rejoin the region following the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia this summer. A hugely experienced player Jenkins has played 98 times for Wales, 5 Lions caps and 125 for the Blues.
Jenkins will be joined in the front row by his 2009 Lions front row partner Matthew Rees with both experienced players bolstering the Blues’ front row options for the new season. Rees has played 58 tests for Wales and also three tests for the Lions.
Richard Smith has been offered a full time contract Blues. The strong running centre made his match winning Blues debut against Munster in January 2013 partnering Jamie Roberts in the centre. A regular for Wales Sevens, Smith got his first taste of Sevens during the summer of 2011, where he played for Wales in three of the four legs of the FIRA series - in Bucharest, Barcelona and Moscow. He has previously played for Neath RFC in 2009/10 before spending a season in Australia playing for Brisbane Bulldogs and then joining Cardiff RFC.
There are six players who have graduated from the Blues Academy to the senior Cardiff Blues squad.
Ellis Jenkins, this seasons Blues Academy Player of the Year and Wales Under 20s Captain moves up to the seniors. The openside is joined by fellow Wales Under 20 squad member Thomas Pascoe. The Pontypridd and Blues Academy centre will compete in the IRB Junior World Championship this summer.
Cardiff RFC backrow forward Ben Roach and Pontypridd and Wales Under 18 Centre/Fullback Aled Summerhill also join the senior squad along with Fullback/Flyhalf Will Thomas.
Cardiff Blues have strengthened their relationship with Cardiff Met by signing young second row prospect Miles Normandale. A product of Marlwood School in Bristol, Miles Normandale then attended Colston School for sixth form before moving to Cardiff Met to study.
Speaking of the players Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Phil Davies said,
“I’m hugely excited be the new arrivals from the experienced Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees to the youngsters we have coming through.
“Players like Ellis Jenkins, Tom Pascoe, Ben Roach, Aled Summerhill, Will Thomas and Richard Smith who have all come through our pathway.
“They are exciting youngsters who I look forward to working with them as we continue to develop.”
Gethin Jenkins – Toulon
Matthew Rees – Scarlets
Richard Smith – Cardiff RFC / Wales sevens
Miles Normandale – Blues Academy
Aled Summerhill – Blues Academy
Ben Roach – Blues Academy
Ellis Jenkins – Blues Academy
Tom Pascoe – Blues Academy
Will Thomas – Blues Academy
The Blues will also been saying farewell to a number of great servants over the summer months and speaking of the departures Phil Davies added,
“All the players leaving have given fantastic service to the Blues during their period of time with us.
“We wish them well for the future and with their rugby careers.”
Jamie Roberts - Racing Metro
Ceri Sweeney - Exeter Chiefs
Tom James - Exeter Chiefs
Michael Paterson - Sale Sharks
Jason Tovey – Newport Gwent Dragons
Campese Ma’afu – Nottingham
Ryan Harford – Cardiff RFC
Nathan Trevett – London Welsh
Matthew Screech – Newport Gwent Dragons
Darren Harries - Scarlets
Jake Cooper Wooley – London Wasps
Cory Hill – Moseley Rugby
Petru Tamba - Unattached
Andi Kyriacou – Retired
The Blues have also strengthened their coaching set up.
“Last season saw us blood a number of young players and twenty matches were won or lost by less than one score.
“With that in mind one of the main areas we wanted to develop was the technical skills in attack and defence as well as the set piece, especially the scrum.
“We aim to bolster the coaching team with the appointment of Dale McIntosh, Andi Kyriacou, Mark Ring who will be involved on specific times throughout the week with player skill development.”
Xavier Rush leaves the coaching set up