Cardiff Blues And The Season Ahead - The Front Row
By Craig Muncey
August 3 2018
The next article in the series looks at the front row for the upcoming season. A front row with no Fao'ao Filise, it seems hard to believe! This is my thoughts on the players who will be competing for a starting spot.
Melon is back for another year after receiving a new contract for the new season. The player is a Welsh legend and I am not using that word lightly. A 3 time Lions tourist and the winner of 129 caps for Wales, an astonishing record. The question is how much does he have left in the tank? We will find out, but one thing we know from Melon is to never write him off.
A fine player in his own right. Put in some excellent performances last season for Cardiff Blues and if continues in that vein then a return to the Welsh squad is not beyond him. A good scrummager and a hard worker in the tight.
A stop-start season last season for the player after suffering a stroke in October 2017. Thyer has real promise as a prop and at 25 years of age has time on his side.
The young prop is only 21 years of age but had a few outings last season for Cardiff Blues which will aid his development. Has the battle to break into the first team this season, but certainly one for the future.
The 19-year-old has almost achieved cult status with his performance for Wales U20's in recent seasons, with many talking about him and wondering when we will see his breakthrough for Cardiff Blues. Carre stands at six foot three inches tall and weighs over twenty stone. Even in today's land of giants that is one big unit for a prop! Carre will know that where he will be rated against will be in the set piece, and no doubt he is working on his technique in this area and has plenty of experience around him to provide him with guidance. Will he make the breakthrough with Cardiff this coming season? We shall see.
In terms of other potential players appearing for Cardiff Blues, then Thomas Davies has signed for Cardiff RFC after a few seasons with the Dragons and has played for Cardiff Blues previously, so if required could make a few appearances.
The Welsh international got stronger as the season went on. Initially struggled to get the starting spot over Matthew Rees, but when Rees got injured, Dacey made the most of his opportunity. An excellent ball carrier and strong in defence. Questions always linger about his scrummaging, and I am sure he is working hard to stop those questions from reappearing. His battle with Rees for the number 2 starting shirt is going to be a great watch.
Smiler had a very strong season last season until a serious knee injury curtailed his season against Ulster. A renowned scrummager he has been rewarded with a new contract and is hoping to be back fit before the end of the year. When fit can he become the first choice again? I would not bet against him.
The first few games he played after joining from the Scarlets he was very impressive, but a few injuries and form of others has made his appearances less frequent and often from the bench. He is an enthusiastic player but just needs to keep a lid on that. Often last season he came onto the field and within minutes had been penalised for an indiscretion. Will start as second choice hooker with Rees injured, and has to make the most of his opportunities when they come.
A player who has shown some promise but either through injuries or inconsistency or form of others has never really seemed to come all together. Is still only 24 years of age, so hopefully can progress this season.
In terms of others who could make an appearance for Cardiff Blues, I have heard good reviews about Iestyn Harris. Still very young, but has talent and a good attitude by all accounts, who is working hard to be the best player he can be. Liam Belcher has rejoined from the Dragons, and the Welsh age group international is likely to play for Cardiff U23's this season but will be hoping if an opportunity arises he can show he can play at this level.
Great acquisition from Cardiff Blues to get the Moldovian onto their books. Been constantly for a few years one of the best tightheads in the Pro 12 previously and now Pro 14. A big ball carrier, good in defence and a strong scrummager. Cannot wait to see him in the 3 shirt this season.
Was outstanding for Wales in the summer against Argentina, and will want to carry that form on this season. Has always had huge potential but injuries have hampered his progression. With him, Arhip and others in the squad, Cardiff Blues for the first time in a long time has real strength in depth in this position.
Been a rumour that the big Georgian would be on the move from Cardiff Arms Park this summer but as it stands is still a member of the squad. Another who has had his fair share of injuries and his fitness does concern you at times. Can we see a fully firing Georgian this season?
Short in stature but very strong, has a similar stature to Samson Lee. Assiratti has slipped off the radar with the rise of Dillon Lewis and Arhip now in the playing squad but is a very good prospect. A very good ball carrier with a turn of pace which is a lot quicker than most props.
Bubba seems to be on his way out of the door at Cardiff Blues often, only for something to happen, he gets a call-up and then gets a run of games and all is well again! Was at Bath last season on loan, came back and after a few outings found himself back in the Welsh team. A popular figure in the squad and a talented rugby player with the ball in hand, and a good defender.
There you have my look at the front row. I will be back next week looking at the second rows at our disposal.
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Good analysis. It is good to see that we finally have some depth in the front row positions although I will be concerned about am concerned about hooker until Smiler returns as until then Dacey seems our only top quality choice. Kirby and Ethan have a lot to prove this season if they are to be looked on as the kind of players you want to see on the pitch in the Champions Cup.
Thanks for the kind words. Yes agree on the hooker situation. Myhill has to step up. When Smiler is fit though his battle with Dacey will be fascinating.