Taking a risk at fly-half?
By Dan Pearce
May 30 2019
Dan looks at the potential weakness in the current squad in the fly-half department. With limited finances, is another fly-half required? Here are Dan's thoughts.
As we continue to wait for news on recruitment from Cardiff Blues, debate rumbles on in regards to exactly who and what we should be aiming for to complete next season’s squad.
There is a generally accepted need for at least one, and probably two, second rows, one of which needs to be a big lump of a player to add some weight to the tight five, while there are varying opinions when it comes to loosehead, hooker and number eight.
In the backs department, meanwhile, there is little debate that back three, centre and scrum-half are all sorted for the next few years, let alone next season, but fly-half is generally accepted to be lacking depth with only Jarrod Evans in the squad as a senior out-and-out 10.
I’m not going to disagree with that in any way, shape or form, but what I will say is that actually, I don’t think we should go out and recruit a fly-half just to fill a gap this summer.
This is mainly due to the lack of options available now, with the likes of Rhys Patchell, Dan Jones, Luke Price, Josh Lewis, Owen Williams, Rhys Priestland and Dan Biggar all contracted at their respective clubs, while Sam Davies is expected to join Dragons.
As far as I can see this leaves us with two options; one is to pick up Jason Tovey after his release from the Dragons, the other is to try and sign an overseas player. I personally don’t see the value in either of these.
With the overseas player, the likelihood is we’re not going to go for an obviously recognisable name as we do not have the budget to do so, and we have Jarrod Evans as our first choice fly-half. Even if we convinced someone to join then the PRB would probably block it.
That leaves us trying to pick up a lesser known non-Welsh qualified fly-half, which would be a waste of an nwq spot, as well as potentially a waste of money as there is no guarantee they actually improve the squad.
On that last point, it is similar to picking up someone like Tovey. Is he still a decent player? Yes, he has the game management skills from 10 years of professional experience and is a solid, middle-of-the-road player. Would he improve the squad? Not necessarily, he would be signed as a body to fill a gap more than anything.
In my opinion, with these two options on the table, we’re better off forgetting about signing a fly-half, running with Jarrod as first choice and then looking at Dan Fish or Matthew Morgan to back him up, bringing Ben Thomas through if 10 is the chosen position for him, and developing Rhys Davies behind them.
The money saved can be put in the pot to upgrade the engine room, and that itself links back to signing a fly-half, as if we pick up a 10 and don’t strengthen sufficiently up front, then we won’t get any sort of platform to play from anyway.
Then next summer we will either be in a position where Ben Thomas has improved sufficiently to be considered a senior fly-half, or we can go after someone like Owen Williams at Gloucester, assuming he is happy to take a pay cut, or one of the Scarlets 10s should Williams find himself down West.
It might result in an interesting season next year if injuries were to hit, but it should set us up longer term to build a good squad, rather than wasting what little money we have on short-term solutions.
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Second Row worries me. If we do bring somebody in it looks like it's going to be a cheap signing. The probability is that any new lock's are unlikely to add anything more than Cook or Down do.