As all are aware, the squad has experienced a very difficult period with various injuries and availability issues since the beginning of the season. The following changes have now been made.
Former Steelman Jonny Bowen has returned to the club from Brecon RFC to fill the gap created by an injury to Mathew Williams. The 27-year-old Bowen’s previous spell was blighted by a serious ankle injury, but he is a powerful performer with an accurate arm at lineout time and he returns injury-free and off the back of a season where he was Newbridge’s Player of the Year. The club would like to acknowledge the assistance of Brecon RFC in making the process an efficient one.
Josh James, a 20-year-old prop who can play both sides of the scrum, has joined after impressing coaches in the first round of Fosters Cup games. He is well known to forwards coach Lee Davies being a product of the highly rated Coleg Y Cwmoedd Rugby Academy system
Another former Steelman returning to the fold after an absence of 9 seasons is back 5 forward Rhodri Dicks. A native of Ebbw Vale, Rhodri has spent a large part of his working career travelling the world in his role as a Security Specialist (he can be spotted with the players on the last Lions tour footage). A product of the RTB club, he is an uncompromising forward who will add experience and size.
The Back division is reinforced by the arrival of three players: David Jones, Liam Jones and Srdan Majkic.
27 year old scrum half Dai is well known and hugely popular within the squad and with the supporters as he played a key role in Ebbw Vale’s 4 title wins and 2nd place finish in the return to the premiership. David will add his unique character and competitive edge in a battle for the 9 shirt with the other scrum halves in the squad.
Liam Jones is a 21-year-old centre and is a product of Merthyr RFC and the Blues Academy. He has had previous experience in the Premiership as an Outside Half with Bridgend and joins the club from Bedlinog after impressing in the pre-season game and at training over the last few months. Liam adds versatility, as he is also able to play at 15, the position from which he scored a cup-winning drop goal in injury time to win the Swalec Plate for Bedlinog in a superb contest with Penallta at the Principality Stadium.
The final arrival is another centre in Srdan Majkic, the 23 year old joins from Newbridge having impressed coaches in his Fosters Cup performances last season whilst on permit from Rogerstone RFC. Srdan arrives fresh from playing for Croatia.
The following players have moved on from the Steelmen and we would like to thank them for their services
Number 8 Ethan Doyle a native of Newport, has decided to step down due to work commitments and the travel difficulties in commuting from Bristol where he is based with his work. Ethan has been a great clubman and his uncompromising style, pace and power made him a firm favourite with the Vale faithful. We wish him well in his future business and rugby career
Utility back Tom Watkins leaves for Nantyglo after a second stint at the club . The popular Tom will always be welcome at the club following his commitment and playing skills in our promotion season.
Scrum Half Tom Edwards is also stepping down to local club, Blaina, due to family commitments. Tom played a vital part in last year’s League winning campaign and will doubtless help to develop his local club
The final departure is prop Lloyd Bridges who returns to parent club Penallta RFC to gain more game time
In what is resembling a particularly busy episode of Casualty, our medical team is being overworked as never before. The current list is as follows:
Dom Franchi – after a serious ACL injury sustained in last year’s October victory at Sardis Road, and a few set backs during the rehabilitation stage, Dom is now running and expected to return to action in January.
Adam Jones is recovering from a groin problem that troubled him throughout last season. This type of injury is very difficult to treat and recover from, but Adam is now making progress and is hoping to return in December or January at the latest.
Mathew Williams is facing a long period of inactivity and an operation to his shoulder that will sideline him until April or, as is more likely, the start of next season. Do not rule out an earlier than predicted return, though, as all who know him will not underestimate his desire to pull on the Ebbw shirt again in the shortest possible time!
New signing Number 8 Rory Pitman suffered a thumb injury in late September that required an operation. The burly Pitman is expected to make his return possibly this coming weekend, but will almost definitely be available for the RGC away match.
Outside Half Josh Lewis is due a scan on the knee injury that forced his early departure in our last home fixture with Carmarthen Quins. The scan will allow the medical team to ascertain the seriousness of the injury and decide on a course of action that will enable Josh to return to the field as soon as possible
One of the latest to be sidelined is second row Joe Bartlett who has a hamstring injury that is likely to result in him being out for around 4 weeks. This is hugely frustrating for Joe who has worked hard in gaining regular starting role in the boiler house.
We have also suffered injuries to our Dragons players,
Ashley Sweet who injured a chest muscle at Merthyr in early October has had an operation and is looking at a return in January. The hugely popular Sweet is determined to return better than ever for the Steelmen and earn a Dragons starting spot.
Last Friday’s game at Aberavon also claimed young full back / winger Will Talbot Davies as an injury victim. Will sustained a thumb injury that will be assessed by the Dragons medical team this week.
Dragons Academy wing prospect Jarred Rosser, having been in impressive early season form for the Steelmen, was called in to train with the Welsh 7’s squad and is likely to representing Wales in tournaments during December. He will then be likely to be in action for Wales Under 20’s in the 6 Nations tournament.
Ebbw Fawr and Coleg Gwent product Joel Harries was called up for Under 20’s training during early November. The loose head prop, who turns 19 in mid December, made a favourable impression and will hopefully make the squad for the 6 Nations. Joel has been in impressive form for Bedlinog in the Championship and certainly impressed in his debut appearance against Newport and in the Fosters Cup games