Latest news:

A backline to relish

By Craig Muncey
May 17 2019

It is time for me to try to add a bit of positivity after the last few weeks, and it seems a very good place to start is looking at the potential backline for Cardiff Blues next season. The acquisitions of Josh Adams and Hallam Amos will certainly improve the back three positions. Here are my thoughts on options for next season

A backline to relish.

After the great news last night that common sense has triumphed and that Nick Williams will play next season, I wanted to carry on that positivity and take a look at the potential backline for Cardiff Blues, which gives all Cardiff Blues fans a reason to be excited for the new season ahead.

Before I do that, then readers may well know my concern over the platform our forwards and in particular our front five can provide which I covered in my recent article (see link if you wish to read my thoughts), however we are only in May and if a few reinforcements are brought in to reinforce this area and with the back row options we have including Josh Navidi, Nick Williams, Ellis Jenkins, Ollie Robinson, Josh Turnbull and Shane Lewis-Hughes then the backs could really light up the Pro 14 League and the European Challenge Cup in the upcoming season and whatever competitions we appear in for the following years ahead.

When I look at the backline then the only area where I feel there is a real apprehension is in the vital fly half position. If Jarrod Evans is unavailable then as it stands (and to repeat myself it is only May), we have as cover Matthew Morgan, Dan Fish and possibly Ben Thomas, who I feel will be a fine player at a regional level in the not too distant future, but as an inside centre. Morgan and Fish have not had much game time in these positions in Morgan’s case for a number of years and neither are placekickers on a regular basis, so you do have some anxiety around this, but barring that, there are some great choices to the backs.

In my view with everyone being available my 9 to 15 would be Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Josh Adams, Willis Halaholo, Rey Leelo, Owen Lane and Hallam Amos. Just writing those names gets you enthusiastic about the season ahead. Speed, skill and some real try poachers in that backline. Even if some of those names are absent then there are alternatives such as Lloyd Williams, Jason Harries, Aled Summerhill, Harri Millard, Garyn Smith, Max Llewellyn and Ben Thomas, some really good options. Rhun Williams is another who is working his way back to fitness after a really bad injury and he is hoping to play some part next season. I wish him well as a fully fit and firing Rhun Williams gives us another great option in the back three positions.

With the backline I have selected in the above paragraph I would say of our forwards are struggling to gain momentum and regularly gain territory then there is a danger we are not getting impetus and gaining territory. Last season, I felt a big strong centre at times just giving us a target could improve the side in certain situations. Halaholo and Leelo are highly skilled players, with great feet in tight situations, but if defences are well organized with good line speed, sometimes there is a risk we just crab across the pitch and end up kicking the ball away. I am not saying either cannot be direct, Leelo, in particular, can make hard yards, but it is not their biggest strength. In the past, a big physical centre in our ranks such as a Jamie Roberts, Pieter Muller and going a bit further back, Colin Laity and Steve Crandon, certainly gives you a go forward, aggressive option to take in some defenders, and hopefully giving more space on the next phase of play.

If Cardiff Blues do want to go down a direct route then I would really like to see Owen Lane given his chance in the midfield. Lane is fast, direct and also when he breaks the first line of defence as he often does, then he has the ability to free his hands and find a support runner, where players like Tomos, Josh, and Hallam could have a lot of joy. With all that in mind, how about this option from 9 to 15. Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Aled Summerhill, Rey Leelo, Owen Lane, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos.

The backs that Cardiff Blues have, do have some flexibility where players can play more than one position to a good level, which as the season goes on and people are unavailable will certainly help the side and it will be interesting to see how those players are used throughout the season. The backs do have outstanding potential and it will be enjoyable to watch them play, let’s see them go!



View a Printer Friendly version of this Story.

Bookmark or share this story with:

A backline to relish
Discussion started by 1876 Cardiff Rugby , 17/05/2019 08:02
1876 Cardiff Rugby
17/05/2019 08:02
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.

Your Name: 
We record all IP addresses on the Sportnetwork message boards which may be required by the authorities in case of defamatory or abusive comment. We seek to monitor the Message Boards at regular intervals. We do not associate Sportnetwork with any of the comments and do not take responsibility for any statements or opinions expressed on the Message Boards. If you have any cause for concern over any material posted here please let us know as soon as possible by e-mailing