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Tomlinson the new hero of Cardiff after Cup glory

WRU Cup

JoeyTomlinson of Cardiff lifts last season's WRU National Cup

Terry Holmes may be one of the all-time great rugby players produced by Cardiff, but the Blue & Blacks now have a new hero on the block in inspirational skipper Joey Tomlinson.

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The 26-year-old hooker celebrated his 100th appearance for the capital city club in the semi-final win over Llandovery and then picked up the man-of-the-match award in the 25-19 triumph over cup holders Merthyr at Principality Stadium as he led his side to their first triumph since 1997.

Holmes handed out the jerseys to the Cardiff players before the match and Tomlinson is likely to be called up as a hero of the past in a few decades time to perform a similar role after his heroics against the Ironmen on Sunday.

He was here, there and everywhere as he inspired his side to hit back from two early Kyle Evans tries to take the win and earn the club its first silverware in a decade.

It was also a performance that gave Merthyr coach Dale McIntosh something to reflect on.

“I think Joey is still a bit angry with me because I left him out of a Blues squad when he was about 16. He was a very good player then, but he carried a bit of weight,” recalled McIntosh.

“There were a couple of other guys who were better than him. I’m hoping that disappointment kick-started him into to becoming what he is at the moment because he is now playing some exceptional stuff. He is a great leader.

“Every time he has played against us he has played very well, and I’d like to think we are decent opposition. I think he could make the jump to regional level and I’ve said that behind closed doors to relevant coaches at the Blues – I think he definitely deserves the opportunity.”

Cardiff born and Cardiff bred, Tomlinson has played for the Blues Premiership Select XV in the past and in their Shinga Sevens side. The ambition to be a full-time professional sticks burns as brightly as ever inside him, but it could well be he has to take his chance outside of Wales to realise that ambition.

“Every boy who picks up a rugby ball would be fibbing if they said they didn’t want to become a professional player. That’s the dream,” admitted Tomlinson, who is an oral care consultant for Colgate.

“I’m 26 and some people say that is still quite young. I’ve been involved at semi-professional level for quite a while now and for the last five years I’ve just been myself.

“I’m aware there is also a life outside of rugby. At the moment I am just happy to turn up at training with Cardiff and see what happens.”

If he does get his chance to progress then you won’t find anyone doubting his ability to make the grade.

Cardiff head coach Steve Law believes he would be an instant hit in the professional game.

“He is an unsung hero and his work rate, leadership and technical ability are as good as I’ve ever seen. I’ve coached in the semi-professional environment since it started, and seen international players dip in and out during that time, and he is as good as any of them,” said Law.

“Joey is a very humble man who is definitely good enough to have an opportunity. He would definitely be competitive at the Blues and has the right attitude to make a few ripples.”

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