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The best Welsh rugby transfer business done for next season and what should still be to come

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Welsh rugby is well-known by now.

Understandly, with financial constraints, signings by the Welsh regions for next season have been at a premium.

Naturally retention is the priority over recruitment, but that’s not to say there aren’t areas to strengthen in each of the four Welsh sides.

We’ve taken a look at the best bits of business so far and what still needs to happen.

Cardiff Blues

Best signing: Rhys Priestland

The addition of the 50-cap Wales international is undoubtedly a positive for Cardiff.

In a season of transition at the Arms Park, what has become apparent in the latter part of the season is that Jarrod Evans’ game management is still not quite enough for Cardiff to be consistently successful.

Think back to that snap drop goal in the closing seconds of the Challenge Cup defeat to London Irish, when a more seasoned player would have gone a different route in the knowledge a penalty advantage would give them the chance to move ahead on the scoreboard – crucially with fewer seconds left on the clock.

Priestland will add that experience to proceedings, having enjoyed a stellar season with Bath – setting a record for most consecutive successful shots at goal in the Premiership.

What they need?

For Cardiff, the potential danger of the backline in recent seasons has never been an issue. It’s been providing them with a platform up front.

They have made moves to bolster the pack, with Cory Hill brought in last year and Matthew Screech set to follow him from Rodney Parade.

But perhaps where they’re lacking most of all in the pack is a big, ball-carrying No. 8.

They’ve yet to really replace Nick Williams, who virtually transformed the Cardiff side when he played such was his impact on the gain line.

Sam Moore was brought in from Sale last year, but his fitness is an issue. As such, a strong ball-carrying presence at the back of the scrum is likely the priority.

Dragons

Best signing: Will Rowlands

A surprise call-up to Wayne Pivac’s first Six Nations squad in 2020, the Wasps lock established himself as a squad regular under the new Wales coach.

Eventually, he knew he would need to head to Wales if he wanted to continue pulling on the red jersey.



Will Rowlands and Cory Hill during training

As such, the Dragons will get the benefit of the sizeable second-row from next season.

Despite slightly falling down the pecking order with Wales, his performances for Wasps indicate this should be a superb signing for Dean Ryan.

What they need?

What Rowlands isn’t though is a silver bullet for their tight-five.

They lost Cory Hill to the Cardiff Blues last year and Matthew Screech appears set to follow him. Given Rowlands’ Wales commitments, they still need some depth in the second-row department.

The same goes for the front-row. At the minute, their front-row cupboard is stocked with a mix of experience veterans like Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis and Brok Harris, and much younger prospects like Ellis Shipp, Josh Reynolds, Harry Fry, Chris Coleman and Luke Yendle.

There’s the likes of Leon Brown and Elliot Dee, who are often away with Wales, while Greg Bateman, signed from Leicester Tigers last year, has been injured.

Some front-row forwards within an age-range that bridges that gap between veteran and rookie would be ideal for Ryan.

Scarlets

Best signing: WillGriff John

With fans’ favourite Werner Kruger retiring at the end of the season, the addition of WillGriff John is a sensible move by the Scarlets.

Cruelly denied a Wales cap last year after his debut against Scotland was postponed, he’s still someone in the sights of Welsh management so there’s talent there.

Alongside Kruger, the Scarlets are losing some ballast in their pack this summer.

The addition of John from Sale, while not totally offsetting that deficit, does certainly bring some bulk to the forward catalogue down west.

What they need?

As mentioned above, the Scarlets are losing some much-needed weight in their pack. Kruger, Jake Ball, Uzair Cassiem and Tevita Ratuva all leaving.

There’s also the need for an openside, with Jac Morgan heading to the Scarlets and Josh Macleod and James Davies long-term injuries.

As such, a bulky second-row or an openside could be on the shopping list.

As could a new face in the backline to strengthen their depth at centre and wing, with Paul Asquith and Osian Knott set to leave Parc y Scarlets.

Ospreys

Best signing: Jac Morgan

It would be easy to look at the Test achievements of Tomas Francis and consider the Wales prop the Ospreys’ best signing ahead of next year.

And while the addition of the Exeter man is a stellar signing by Toby Booth, it could be the man nabbed from their nearest rivals which proves to be the best this year. In fact, right now you’d pick Morgan as the most impressive bit of business we’ve seen anywhere in Wales in recent weeks.

Jac Morgan, signed from the Scarlets, has been one of the standout performers at Parc y Scarlets this year.

He’ll be learning from Justin Tipuric and is set to get regular playing time at the Liberty Stadium.

The Wales U20s captain should only kick on from here.

What they need?

First of all, before talking about any new signings, the return to fitness of Gareth Anscombe is the thing they need most. The Wales fly-half arrived at the Liberty Stadium in 2019 and has yet to play after a knee injury in the build-up to that year’s World Cup.

In addition to that, a out-and-out No. 8 wouldn’t go amiss, with Morgan Morris often deputising in the position – and doing a fine job it should be added.

But above all, where the Ospreys will probably look to strengthen is in the form of a utility back who can keep things ticking over when internationals are away.

With the likes of George North and Owen Watkin in and out of proceedings through Wales duty, another constant presence through the season would be a big boost for Booth.

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