Cardiff Blues keen to keep Rhys Patchell

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales
Rhys Patchell won his two Wales caps on the 2013 tour to Japan
Rhys Patchell won his two Wales caps on the 2013 tour to Japan

Cardiff Blues recruitment chief Billy Millard says he will be working "around the clock" to keep Rhys Patchell.

The 21-year-old, who has two Wales caps, has seen his preferred fly-half role go to Gareth Anscombe since his arrival from Waikato Chiefs.

Patchell has started at full-back in the games both have played, leading to speculation he could look for a move.

"They're the guys you want... so I'll be working around the clock to keep Mr Patchell," Millard said.

Millard, who is head of elite performance after a previous spell as backs coach with the region, wants to keep both Patchell - who has another year left on his contract - and Anscombe, 23.

"They're both great kids, they're very driven, very intense and very knowledgeable," Millard said.

"They can both play 15, and Patch is getting his chance at 10. The coaches are working with him on his decision-making and he's a great kid who eats up information."

Millard also says he is not worried about the future of Wales and British and Irish Lions wing Alex Cuthbert, who also has a year left on his current deal.

That is despite Cuthbert's decision to turn down a dual contract with the region and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Cuthbert's Test form has also dipped and he has found himself omitted from the Wales team during the current Six Nations campaign.

"I was watching him closely last week and he was buzzing, I think his game [against Connacht] mirrored that.," Millard said.

"I think it's up to us to provide a challenging, stimulating, fun development environment for him and if we do that, retention's lot easier."

Meanwhile, Millard plans talks with the board within the next fortnight on plans to replace director of rugby Mark Hammett for next season, after his departure citing family reasons following the defeat against Treviso.

"We're starting to get some things together but the two boys in the management group [coaches Paul John and Dale McIntosh] have just kicked on and got a couple of really good results [beating Edinburgh and Connacht]," Millard said.

"We'll probably sit down in the next fortnight and get some direction on where the board and Richard [Holland, the chief executive] want to go."

McIntosh, meanwhile, is not speculating about who will be in charge for next season: "All we're doing is fitting in where the club and the board feel fit.

"We just want to get on with our job and as long as the boys are achieving and developing, Johnsy and I are happy."

Millard revealed that several new recruits for next season are set to be announced with "one in the bag" and two deals more about to be sealed, though the region is not commenting on the likelihood of centre Jamie Roberts returning from Racing Metro.

Blues have given new contracts to 18-year-olds Liam Belcher, a hooker currently with Wales Under-20s, and lock Seb Davies, who missed out on the current junior Six Nations because of a shoulder injury, and converted from playing centre at schoolboy level.

Both have played for Pontypridd and made their regional debuts in the LV Cup.

Meanwhile Richard Hodges, the region's elite performance pathway manager, revealed that the Welsh regions could look to play up to eight A team games next season as part of efforts to "bridge the gap" between the Premiership and the Pro12.

"It's just trying to find a couple or more of these fixtures every now and then to expose these boys, so they've got their shop window in front of the first team coaches," said Hodges.