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The Wern set for No 10 battle

Ben Jones kicking for Pontypridd

Ben Jones in action

There is going to be a battle royal for No 10 jersey at The Wern next season after Merthyr added Ben Jones and Gareth Thompson to their squad for the 2020/21 season.

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The Ironmen already have former Cardiff Blues outside half Gareth Davies on their books, as well as the up and coming Rhys Davies, who was in the Blues Academy, and now former Wales U20 cap Jones and Cardiff points machine Thompson have joined the former Premiership champions.

Jones has made the short trip up the A470 from Pontypridd and is among a number of backline recruits that head coach Dale McIntosh will be hoping can spark new life into his side as he tries to get them back to their title winning ways.

Thompson moved into seventh place on Cardiff’s all-time points scoring list last season as he took his tally in 105 games since 2012 to 951. That left him 21 points short of his new Merthyr team mate, Gareth Davies, and still behind Adrian Davies (1,162), Alun Priday (1,316), Lee Jarvis (1,339), Mike Rayer (1,422) and the WRU chairman, Gareth Davies (3,117).

Long-serving scrum half Rhys Downes is one of 18 players to have left The Wern, but Carl Blacker has joined to battle with Justin James for the No 9 shirt. Blacker played for Clifynydd and Pontypridd last season.

Former Wales U20 and Blues centre Tom Pascoe joins from Newport, while Terri Gee has returned after a brief sojourn in Australia and at the Arms Park. He notched five tries in seven games for Cardiff last season.

Another new wing will be the former Gloucester Academy and Jersey Reds man Alex Morgan. He made the Wales U20 squad in January, 2019, and was a regular try scorer for Hartpury and Gloucester United.

Cardiff, who ended the season on top of the Indigo Group Premiership table, also look set to lose former Wales U20 lock Callum Bradbury to the Ironmen. He is seen as the ideal replacement for Damien Welch, who has joined Plymouth Albion as their head coach.

Shaun O’Rourke is another second row recruit from Swansea, while the front row will be bolstered by the addition of tight head Joe Sprotson and hooker Will Evans. North Walian Sprotson arrives from Beziers, in France, while former Newport HSOB product Evans has come in from Moseley.

Returning to the Ironmen next season will be fans favourite flanker Osian Davies. A league and cup winner with the club, he spent time playing in Canterbury, New Zealand last season.

MERTHYR SQUAD 2020/21

Backs: Carl Blacker, Justin James, James Soanes, Ben Jones, Gareth Thompson, Gareth Davies, Arron Pinches, Tom Pascoe, Harley Thompson, Teri Gee, Ashley Norton, Alex Morgan, Sam Jones, Rhys Davies, Josh Martin

Forwards: Nathan Trevett, Chris Phillips, James Howe, TBC, Joe Sproston, Rhys Lewis, Rhys Williams, Will Evans, Sam Evans, Paddy McBride, Shaun O Rourke, Tom Daley, Phil Rees, TBC, Osian Davies, Jack Perkins

MERTHYR DEPARTURES

Jack Gilding, Damien Welch, Rhys Downes, Matthew Jarvis, Rhys Jones, Ryan Thomas, Ieuan Morris, Mitchell Savage, Liam Owen, Ben Siers, Mitchell Bernard, Hemi Barnes, Jake Thomas, Garrick Legge, Liam Legge, Liam Lloyd, Chris Czekaj, Michael Kneath

 

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