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Yapp Tries Switch To Tight Head

9th July 2008

Blues Loosehead John Yapp has spent the past month in Australia trying out a new role on the tighthead side of the scrum.

To date, Yapp has played all his rugby for the Blues on the loosehead, but now he has decided to try his hand on the tight, which could spell a whole new phase in his career.

The eight-times capped Wales international Yapp has been packing down at No 3 for the Tuggeranong Vikings club in Canberra, having headed Down Under in May.

There’s an existing link-up between the Vikings and the Blues, with Arms Park flanker Ben White having been a product of the club – as was Wallaby World Cup-winning winger Joe Roff. Yapp’s trial run on the tight appears to have gone well, as he has been a regular starter and scored a try in the recent victory over the exotically-named Gunghalin Eagles.

He’s now completed his stay Down Under and will be back on board with the Blues next week. The move could be good news for the Blues, Wales and Yapp himself. John Yapp burst onto the international scene as an impact sub during the 2005 Grand Slam.

If the move is successful it should give a new option to both Blues Director of Coaching David Young and Wales coach Warren Gatland. At 6ft 2in and nearly 20 stone, Yapp certainly looks to have the size for the job, while his ball-carrying ability and physicality in the loose is well recognised.

He won the last of his eight caps on the 2006 summer tour of Argentina, when he suffered his first defeat in Welsh colours, having been on the wining side for his first seven outings, all but one of which came off the bench. Last season, he made 21 appearances for the Blues – taking his career total to 97, a figure that would be even higher if he was not competing with British Lion Gethin Jenkins.

Indeed a switch of positions could well be timely to make the most of his undoubted talent and power. Speaking about that deal at the time, David Young said: “John is very much part of our future plans. “He has shown that he has the strength and ability to compete at the highest level. “He has a fantastic work ethic and he’s shown in matches against the English clubs that he can mix it with the big players in the Guinness Premiership.”

Former Cowbridge Comprehensive pupil Yapp would face competition for the Blues tighthead spot from Gary Powell and Tongan Fao Filise. He could get a chance to continue his apprenticeship in the role when newly-promoted Northampton visit the Arms Park for a pre-season friendly on Friday, August 29, kick off 7.30pm - a fixture is included in the season ticket package.

The Saints feature former All Blacks Carlos Spencer and Bruce Reihana in their ranks, with new forward recruits including Argentinian veteran Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and ex-Ulster duo Neil Best and Roger Wilson.

The Blues are currently in the process of trying to confirm another friendly fixture. They are scheduled to play Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday, August 22, but both teams are looking for alternative sides to play, having been drawn in the same Heineken Cup pool.