Cardiff Blues And The Season Ahead - The Second Row
By Craig Muncey
August 5 2018
Next to the last article in the series looks at the players who could be lining up in the second row for Cardiff Blues this upcoming season. The boilerhouse is an area Cardiff Blues have struggled in for a few years, with on a number of occasions a more renowned back rower being placed into the second row which has scaled down our strength in the scrum and against sides with forward power keeping their gameplan tight and using the driving maul and playing narrow has caused us problems. This season we have some new recruits and things could be very different. Let's see! Here are the players in no particular order.
I don't want to exert too much pressure on the young second rower, but last season he showed what a star he could be in the years to come for Cardiff Blues and for Wales. Great athlete with a bit of steel about him as well. To date has only been played in the back row for Wales which even though he can do a role there, is not his best position, which is most certainly lock. I am looking forward to another big season from the 22-year-old.
The powerful South African has had his fair share of injuries, but when fit, is the type of lock I think Cardiff Blues lack in. Strong in the tight, carries well, a good scrummager and hits rucks regularly either securing ball for us or disrupting the opposition ball. Hopefully can stay fit this season as can play a big role for Cardiff Blues.
A loanee from Ospreys this upcoming season. The 23-year-old has lost his way somewhat at the Ospreys, after bursting on the scene as a 19-year-old and being called into the Welsh training squad for the 2015 World Cup. Thornton has found himself behind Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies, Lloyd Ashley, and another young lock whose status has grown recently and moved past Thornton in the pecking order, Adam Beard. The move for the player is a good move at the right time. At six foot seven and weighing in at almost twenty stone, then he can certainly be a player who can enhance the Cardiff Blues. If Thornton is eager to impress and get himself back into the thoughts of Wales then this could prove to be an excellent pick up by Cardiff Blues. I am really looking forward to seeing him play.
The experienced lock has found his appearances limited, but always gives his all and is an excellent lineout exponent. A very good squad player.
The Welsh international can play lock and right across the back row, so is a very important member of the squad over a long hard season. Played most of his games at lock last season and did a very good job. Is naturally a back rower, so he is undersized, but he gives it his all and brings into the second-row football skills and carrying ability from his back row background. I did think, prior to Sam Warburton's retirement, that majority of games he may start at lock, but I can also see him over a long season, getting quite a few games at 6, which for me is his best position. A player I rate highly.
Was asked to go away and bulk up in the summer so I would suggest Cardiff Blues see his future at lock forward. Cook is a fan favourite at Cardiff Arms Park, a no-frills hard-working player, who similarly to Turnbull is a player who can cover lock and back row. Has plenty of opposition for a lock or a back row position, so be interesting to see how much game time he gets, but will not let Cardiff Blues down.
Came on the scene late last season, and made a few appearances. The 22-year old has come from Merthyr RFC and Cardiff Blues clearly see some potential in the player. Will play you would think for the U23 side, and be interesting to see his progression over the coming season.
In terms of others who may get to pull on a Cardiff Blues shirt at lock then there is Sean Moore a young lock who is plying his trade at Pontypridd RFC and another young lock, Callum Bradbury, both have played at different age groups for Wales. Another player who could also play lock over the season for Cardiff Blues is Samu Manoa. The American international seems to be seen by Cardiff Blues as more of a back rower, but in my view, I feel Manoa is going to be not someone to mainly support the workload of Nick Williams. If he is fit and in form (and we will know that as the season goes on), I can see in the big games especially in Europe, Manoa starting games at lock.
There are my thoughts on the locks. In the final article in the series, I will look at the hotly contested position of the back row for the upcoming season.