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My End Of Season Player Report For Guinness Pro 12

By Craig Muncey
May 13 2016

The following article is my end of year grades for Cardiff Blues players who appeared in the Pro 12 league last season (no I am not a school teacher by trade). It has been a season I have thoroughly enjoyed (a feeling I have not always had over recent years), yes there has been some disappointing losses and performances, but generally you can feel a positive change in mentality and belief in the playing squad.  And for that Danny Wilson and his backroom staff, deserve a lot of credit.  So thank you Danny and the rest.  I generally mean this when I say that I cannot wait for next season and to see how the team progress.  Anyhow here are my grades, and brief thoughts on each player who appeared in the league, in alphabetical order.  

End Of Season Report

Cory Allen - C.  Cory made 4 appearances for the Cardiff Blues, scoring 1 try, after overcoming an injury playing for Wales in the World Cup.  Unfortunately, after getting his fitness back and showing a bit of form, got injured again.  The player is so unlucky with injuries, needs a sustained run of games to show the talent he undoubtably has, let's hope that happens next season.

Scott Andrews - C-.  Scott made 3 apperarances for the Cardiff Blues in the league, all from the bench.  Been a strange season for Scott, has been working out as a hooker, but very rarely seen for either Cardiff Blues or Cardiff RFC in this position.  Is a talented rugby player around the pitch, but you do wonder next season will they persevere at hooker or move him back as cover at tight head, with Kristian Dacey, Ethan Lewis, Liam Belcher, Matthew Rees and Kirby Myhill all at the club. Time will tell.

Gareth Anscombe - B.  Gareth made 6 appearances in the league with 2 tries, one a very special try against the Scarlets.  Anscombe has been excellent for the Cardiff Blues since his return from injury. His goal kicking has been exceptional, and his game with ball in hand is also very good, has great vision for a pass, and I expect him to progress even further as player next season and hoping he takes on more of a leadership role as his confidence increases. 

Macauley Cook - C.  Maculey made 15 apperances for the Cardiff Blues in the league, 13 of those off the bench, with 2 tries.  Cook is a well respected player who all clubs like to have around the place.  Gives it his all, he covers lock and blindside flanker, which makes him a very useful squad player to have.

Alex Cuthbert - C.  Alex made 5 appearances for the Cardiff Blues in the league scoring 1 try.  Cuthbert has shown some signs of his 2013 form this season, but has suffered a number of injuries, which eventually curtailed his season.  Hopefully can come back fitter and hungry to be the finisher he once was, which if he does, will be a massive asset not just for Cardiff Blues but Wales as well.

Kristian Dacey - C.  Kristian made 17 appearances for the Cardiff Blues in the league, 7 off the bench with 2 tries.  Kristian for me has struggled a bit this season, he burst onto the scene season before last and looked a real find.  However this form has struggled for consistency, especially with his line out accuracy.  Still been a strong ball carrier, but has lost out a number of times to Matthew Rees on who wears the number 2 shirt.  Big battle for Dacey next season to become first choice hooker with Kirby Myhill joining, should be a great battle.

Gareth Davies - D.  Gareth made 5 appearances off the bench for Cardiff Blues in the league this season.  Davies has lost out to being the back up at 10 to Jarrod Evans this campaign, and if truth be told he does not have the necessary skillset at this level.  Rumour is that he will be joining Merthyr next season, where I think he will do very well.  Will always be remembered fondly at Cardiff Blues for that game against Toulon.  I wish him well.

Tom Davies - C-. Tom made 11 appearances for Cardiff Blues in the league, 7 off the bench.  Davies fell back in the list of loosehead props last season to Brad Thyer, Sam Hobbs and Corey Domachowski in who was a back up to Gethin Jenkins.  Davies is one of the players leaving this summer and I wish him all the best in his future career.

Cam Dolan - C. Cam made 5 appearances for Cardiff Blues in the league, 2 off the bench.  Dolan, was used very sparely this season and seemed to be on his way out of the club, however, against Munster put in a very good performance, and also was very solid against Edinburgh.  Both of those games he played at lock, and similar to Cook, he can also play at 6, so could be a useful squad player for next season.

Corey Domachowski - C-.  Corey made 1 substitute appearance in the league.  Domachowski is a very young prop learning his trade.  Is only 19 years of age, but many see a prop who could become very good.  Part of the grand slam winning Wales under 20 side.

James Down B-. James made 21 appearances for Cardiff Blues in the league, 2 from the bench.  Down has been a bit of an unsung hero this season.  Quietly gone about his job, but has put in some very strong performances.  Main source of line out for the team and the line out caller.  Been a big improvement in the line outs this season and for that Down deserves a proportion of appreciation for that.

Gavin Evans - C-. Gavin made 10 appearances for Cardiff Blues, 2 from the bench with 1 try.  Evans is a solid centre, very good in defence and a good organiser, but has slowly slipped down the pecking order as the season has progressed.  The player is leaving this summer, and again, I wish him well, and he will do a solid job wherever he goes.

Jarrod Evans  - C. Jarrod made 13 apperances for Cardiff Blues, 8 from the bench.  Evans is only 19 years of age, but comes across as a confident player, who is not afraid to make his tackles and looks a talented footballer with ball in hand, needs to some work on his tactical kicking, but could become a very decent rugby player.

Taufa'ao Filise - B - Taufa'ao made 17 appearances in the league, 6 from the bench.  Filise has been immense this season, at 39 years of age, the body of work he put in when Cardiff Blues were crying out for a tight head was fantastic.  Has been rewarded with a new contract and rightly so, a Cardiff Blues legend.

Dan Fish - B. Dan made 22 appearances in the league, 3 from the bench with 5 tries.  Fish has been excellent this season, many fans concentrate on his negatives such as his defence which at times is not great and his slight frame.  However, I see a player who can create, has an eye for a gap, and is a great support runner.  His left foot comes in very useful as well as an exit strategy when under the cosh.  Be interesting to see next season, how often he gets a start with Matthew Morgan at the club.

Jevon Groves - C-. Jevon made 1 substitute appearance in the league.  Groves is a good athlete, but there are quite a few players ahead of him in the pecking order.  Appears will be kept on next season, and I expect him to turn out for Cardiff RFC on a regular basis.

Sam Hobbs - C-. Sam made 11 appearances in the league, 5 off the bench with 1 try.  Hobbs fell behind Brad Thyer as back up to Gethin Jenkins as the season progressed, and before the season ended it was announced that he would be joining the Newport Gwent Dragons next season.  Been a fine servant of the Cardiff Blues and has captained the team on a few occasions, he will do well at the Dragons.

Jarrad Hoeata - C+. Jarrad made 16 appearances in the league, 5 off the bench.  Hoeata, has had a stop start season due to injuries.  His discipline does let him down, but when he does play, he gives the front five a harder more rugged edge.  Be interesting to see what impact he has next season, hopefully a big season awaits the New Zealander.

Tom Isaacs - C-. Tom made 9 appearances in the league, 2 off the bench, with 1 try.  Isaacs, has rarely been seen at Cardiff Arms Park this season, as been away on Welsh sevens duty.  Popped up few times in the centre and on the wing.  Played against Ospreys on Judgement Day and being kind, lets say did not get the bounce off the ball.  Is leaving Cardiff Blues this summer.

Tom James - B.  Tom made 13 appearances in the league, 1 off the bench with 6 tries.  James started the season in outstanding form, earning him a recall to the Welsh squad.  Has had a few niggling injuries as the season went on, but still had an excellent year.  Fine finisher, but also an outstanding support runner.  Hoping for more of the same next season.

Ellis Jenkins - B+. Ellis made 17 appearances in the league, 2 off the bench with 2 tries.  Jenkins has been outstanding this season.  His form was so good he warranted a place in the side when Warburton returned, so they moved the Welsh captain to 6.  Jenkins is very unlucky to miss out on the tour to New Zealand this summer with Wales.  The player has also captained Cardiff Blues a few times, so at 23 years of age already deemed part of the leadership group.  One to watch.

Gethin Jenkins - C. Gethin made 10 appearances in the league.  The old warhorse just keeps on going.  Not used so much by Wales anymore, but his experience and knowledge is still invaluable to that group as is with the Cardiff Blues.  Such a good rugby player, and still fantastic at the collision area.  His gametime will be managed next year with Rhys Gill and Brad Thyer at the club, but don't count out Geth yet, he could still surprise me, yet again.  I expect him as this year to be club captain.

Owen Jenkins - D. Owen made 1 appearance in the league.  Seems to have disappeared some what this season, has appeared for Pontypridd a few times, but rarely seen at Cardiff Arms Park. 

Lewis Jones - C. Lewis made 10 appearances in the league, 9 as sub.  Good scrum half, who keeps the pack on their toes with his constant chat.  A player I like, has decent general skills for a scrum half if not outstanding in any.  Has a battle on his hands next season for gametime with Tomos Williams progressing very nicely, but did get the nod at Judgement Day, when Lloyd Williams was missing over Tomos Williams.

Tavis Knoyle - C-. Tavis made 10 apperances in the league, 2 as sub, with 1 try.  Knoyle started the season well and was certainly the number one back up to Lloyd Williams and was really pushing him for the 9 shirt.  However, as season has gone on, has dropped down the pecking order, and indeed played a few games for Cardiff RFC late in the season.  Currently, due to remain on next season, but has a big challenge ahead of him to get in the pro side.

Reynold Leelo - B. Rey made 16 appearances in the league with 3 tries.  Leelo as the season progressed got better and better, which following his move from Samoa is to be expected.  Will be first choice centre next season and will be interesting to see who starts the season as his partner. 

Dillon Lewis - C+. Dillon made 8 appearances in the league, 7 off the bench.  Lewis is a young tight head where big things are expected.  Was outstanding for Wales U20's in their grand slam campaign, and could see signs last season how good could be.  Another one to watch, only 20 years of age.

Ethan Lewis - C-. Ethan made 10 appearances in the league, 8 off the bench.  Lewis is a young hard working hooker, decent ball carrier and looks like he may have a future.  Has time on his side, and a big challenge next season with so many hookers at the club, expect him to get decent amount of gametime for Cardiff RFC.

Salesi Ma'afu - C-. Salesi made 6 appearances in the league.  Ma'afu did not play from mid March, as limped off against Munster.  Probably an understatement to say that this summer has a lot of work ahead of him to get anywhere near full fitness to play regularly.  In a few scrums showed his scrummaging power, but was few and far between.  I will watch with interest to see if we can get the Ma'afu who played for Australia and Northampton Saints that was so good, that European giants, Toulon wanted and paid for.

Harri Millard - C-. Harri made 2 substitute appearances in the league.  Millard was another star of the Wales U20's grand slam team.  Look a very useful player, and will watch on with interest to see how he progresses.

Craig Mitchell - C-. Craig made 9 appearances in the league, 5 off the bench.  Mitchell has struggled this season for gametime and has suffered a number of injuries.  Has turned out a few times for Cardiff RFC.  Been announced will be joining Newport Gwent Dragons next season, hopefully can stay fit and do well for them.

Josh Navidi - B+. Josh made 18 appearances in the league, 4 as sub, with 6 tries.  Navidi, yet again has been outstanding.  Such a quality player, and an excellent back rower, wherever he is asked to play.  I think his best position is either 6 or 8, but wherever it is 6 tries from the back row is a great return.  

Rhys Patchell - B+.  Rhys made 19 appearances in the league, with 6 tries. Patchell has been excellent this season, started off at 10, and some of his performances out in Ireland were top drawer.  Made the move to full back, and again put in some outstanding performances.  Will be missed next season as joining the Scarlets.  Cardiff Blues looked so much better when Anscombe and Patchell played at first and second receiver, oh how I wanted to see him play at 12 alongside Anscombe, sadly was not to be.... well not yet.

Lou Reed - C-. Lou made 12 appearances in the league, 4 as sub.  Reed is a strong scrummaging lock, who on occasions does something that reminds you why he played for Wales, but in the next breath you wonder how he ever played for Wales.  Been a popular character within the group, but will be leaving this summer for pastures new.

Matthew Rees - C.  Matthew made 15 appearances in the league, 5 from the bench, scoring 1 try.  Rees has put in some solid performances this season, and when the scrum was creaking just after Christmas he was recalled and made a big difference in the scrum.  Been an excellent professional over the years, expected to be involved in the coaching for Cardiff RFC next season.

Blaine Scully - C. Blaine made 8 appearances in the league, scoring 1 try.  Scully has put in some solid performances this season, and will provide cover for wing and full back next season, very dependable player.

Garyn Smith - C+. Garyn made 13 appearances in the league, 5 from the bench, scoring 2 tries.  Smith has been very good this season, and him and Leelo have built up a good partnership this season.  He is not the biggest, but good in defence, runs good lines and has a decent offload. 

Richard Smith - C-. Richard has played 3 times in the league, scoring 1 try.  Smith has rarely been in the match day 23 this season, playing a few times for Cardiff RFC.  Is a strong runner who can play centre or wing.  Is leaving this summer, and will be a decent asset for someone.

Aled Summerhill - C+. Aled played 14 times in the league, 4 off the bench, scoring 5 tries.  Summerhill is a talented young player, who reminds me a lot of Rhys Williams in his playing style.  Can cover a few positions, and looking forward to seeing him progress next season.

Adam Thomas - D.  Adam played 2 times in the league, scoring 1 try.  Thomas has not been seen at Cardiff Arms Park for a number of months now, he is back playing for Pontypridd.  Decent club player, but does not have the skills for a pro side. 

Brad Thyer - C. Brad played 9 times in the league, 7 from the bench.  Thyer impressed me a lot since coming into the side. Is a good scrummager, and gets through a lot of work.  Only 23 years of age, and could be a very useful addition to the squad.

Josh Turnbull - A. Josh played 20 times in the league, scoring 5 tries.  Turnbull has been immense this season, his tackle count, ball carries, line out wins etc, has been up near the top in the league all season.  Turnbull has also played 4,5,6,7 and 8 this season, and performed admirably in all.  Been rewarded with a Welsh call up, fully deserved.

Manoa Vosawai - B-. Manoa played 18 times in the league, 6 as sub, with 2 tries in the league.  Vosawai put in some huge performances around the turn of the year for Cardiff Blues and won a few man of the match awards, with his big ball carrying and some big hits.  Picked up a few injuries, and lost his place to Navidi at 8, but still a good season.  Will be leaving this summer with Nick Williams joining the team, I wish him well.

Sam Warburton - C. Sam played 6 times in the league.  Warburton had a few injuries this season, and with Welsh duties missed a few matches.  When did play, put in some good performances in his usual aggressive manner at the breakdown.  Him and Ellis next season will be a nightmare at the breakdown for the opposition.

Lloyd Williams - B-. Lloyd played 12 times in the league, 1 off the bench, with 1 try.  Williams was back to his old form this season, after season before last.  Had sharpness in his passing and an eye for a snipe.  Hopefully can keep his levels of performance up next season.

Rhys Williams - D. Rhys made 1 appearance off the bench in the league.  Tough hard working hooker, who just does not have the necessary skills at top level.  Has been released by the club.

Tomos Williams - C.  Tomos made 7 appearances in the league, 5 from the bench.  21 year old scrum half, who in the times he played, looks very sharp with a bright future in the game.  One to watch.

Hope you have enjoyed my thoughts, and have wetted the appetite for next season even more so.

Craig Muncey 

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My End Of Season Player Report For Guinness Pro 12
Discussion started by 1876 Cardiff Rugby , 13/05/2016 15:38
1876 Cardiff Rugby
13/05/2016 15:38
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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Beard from Tad Cymru
16/05/2016 09:57
good summary

Craig Muncey
16/05/2016 20:25
Beard from Tad Cymru
good summary

Thank you.

17/05/2016 10:14
Many thanks. Very interesting. You're clearly a tough marker but what's interesting is that for our front line players freedom from injury Is more important than anything else in measuring contribution to the club.
No matter how good some players are, if they can't play they offer us nothing.

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