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Coaches put Cardiff Blues on right course

By Michael Sadlier

Since David Young departed in 2011, the top job has failed to keep anyone involved for long. Yes, the position of head coach at Cardiff Blues has pretty much resembled a revolving door which, in turn, has had a less than positive impact on the serially underachieving Welsh capital’s side.

The latest to go has been Kiwi Mark Hammett who was still only in his first season, and just six months in the job, when his return home for ‘personal reasons’ was made public last month just before the Blues were due to play at Treviso.

With Hammett departed, it’s over to assistant coaches Phil John and Dale McIntosh to step in again and try and steer the Blues clear of this latest crisis. The duo also jointly took the helm after Phil Davies made his exit a year ago.

Interestingly, their spell in charge went rather well as the Blues won four out of six matches which helped revive the fortunes of their talented — Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins and Alex Cuthbert are all on the books — but woefully inconsistent squad.

What’s more, the John and McIntosh combination has been in charge now for the last two PRO12 games which have actually seen the Blues triumph and put back-to-back league results together for only the second time in this campaign with th]eir last outing against Connacht grabbing the headlines after Pat Lam’s outburst at referee Leighton Hodges.

While the PRO12 has largely been unfruitful ground, the Blues have at least managed to do something in Europe though reaching the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

Their reward is a trip to the Dragons next weekend, a side who the Blues are only three points ahead of in the PRO12 table with the Welsh capital’s side currently occupying a typically lowly ninth place.

Their more pressing concerns are European and their bid to appoint a new head coach though John and McIntosh just might be the right move. Anyway, both situations will be all-important as the region bids to tempt back Jamie Roberts as he prepares to leave Racing Metro while being strongly linked to Harlequins where Blues player Adam Jones is already heading next season.

Indeed, Jones’s exit to London was only confirmed yesterday, but he has still been brought into the starting side for tonight as part of a gnarled front row which includes Matthew Rees who also returns and leads the team.

Out-half Gareth Anscombe returns to his father’s former employers eight months after his “clowns” outburst towards Ulster after Mark’s sudden removal.

Anscombe the younger has plenty of motivation then, it’s just that his mindset may not be enough to drag the rest of the Blues with him.

Belfast Telegraph


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