Cardiff Blues And The Season Ahead - The Half Backs
By Craig Muncey
August 1 2018
The next article in the series looks at the options in the 9 and 10 shirts for the upcoming season. Are these positions of strength? Read on and see what you think.
Going to start off looking at the fly-half, outside half, standoff or second five eight, whatever name you use to describe the position, I am sure we can all agree it is a key position for any rugby side and Cardiff Blues are blessed with two very good players in this position also with decent cover beyond that.
The player is pushing very hard for a starting spot for Wales after some strong performances last season in the number 10 shirt mainly but also has slotted in at 15 for Wales, which occurs for Cardiff Blues as well. Anscombe is a fine player when on the front foot when his excellent running and football skills come to the fore. Anscombe is an outstanding passer of a rugby ball, delivering a pass with pace and in front of the teammate so he can run onto the pass. Anscombe quickly identifies mismatches in a defensive line or if a defence is not aligned correctly or with gaps in behind for the chip over the top.
The challenge that is thrown at him is at the very top level does he have the all-around game at the top level to control a game in poor conditions or in tight games when you need to pin defences back with a high-quality kicking game? There is no doubt his kicking from hand did improve last season, and his place kicking is of a good standard. Another question is with Cardiff Blues if he and Jarrod Evans are playing to their full ability, then Cardiff Blues may want to have both players on the pitch in the big games especially, so will that mean Anscombe playing at 15 rather than his favoured position of 10 which may impact his chances of wearing the number 10 shirt for Wales. Time will tell.
Similarly to Anscombe, Evans is a fine footballer. He attacks the line very well, often with the ball in two hands so the opposition is unsure if he is looking to pass or look to make a break himself through the first line of defence, which he is more than capable of. Evans also can improve on his tactical kicking from hand, especially his touch kicks but again he is improving and is still very young. His place kicking is also very sound and is also a very good defender.
Really looking forward to seeing how he goes this year as Evans is a major talent and even in a position stacked full of outstanding players in Wales, Evans can push for international honours this upcoming season.
I will admit I am a fan of this player. Goes about his work with minimum fuss when called upon. His best position in my view is at inside centre, but also provides cover in the number 10 position. A strong kicking game both from hand and off the floor. Provides outside backs with opportunities and also good at attacking the line. A reliable squad player.
Those are the main three options, but also in the squad are two youngsters in Ben Jones and Ben Thomas. Two young talented players who have shown plenty of potential already at different age group levels.
The scrum-halves providing the bullets for the above players, again, Cardiff Blues have some good options, and the battle for the starting shirt as it was last season, will be a real contest.
A player with plenty of experience and at times last season was in the form which got him into the Welsh set up a few seasons ago. When Lloyd is fully firing he is an excellent scrum-half. Dangerous around the fringes, excellent delivery and really working well with the forwards. Will start the season you would think as the second choice, but when given the chance he will want to show he is still the best number 9 in Cardiff.
A hugely exciting player who is now following the summer a Welsh international. Williams has electric pace and plays with a real tempo to his game, a real try threat and will look to keep progressing his game this upcoming season. Likely to start the season as first choice and his battle with Lloyd over the season will be fascinating. Both could easily be in the Welsh squad this season.
A young scrum-half who gained experience last season with the Dragons during a loan spell. Blacker is lightning quick and a real running threat. Still has a lot to learn on the components required for a top-level scrum-half, but is still very young and is coming along nicely. One to keep an eye out for.
Seems to have been at Cardiff Blues for years and years but is still only 25 years of age. A tough hard working number 9 who has a good skill set and always gives his all. Unfortunately for him, finds himself third or fourth choice this season coming. How much game time will he see? Barring injuries you cannot see too much for Cardiff Blues but more than capable if required.
In terms of others who may play for Cardiff Blues, then Cardiff RFC have signed Martin Roberts. The player has a wealth of experience playing in England for a number of clubs and has played for the Scarlets and the Ospreys. Was capped 3 times for Wales and is only 32 years of age. Who knows if he plays well for Cardiff RFC and Lloyd and Tomos Williams get called up for Wales, there might be an opportunity for the player to return to top-flight Welsh rugby.