By Rob Cole
Danny Wilson has pledged to maintain his professionalism and remain committed to the end at Cardiff Blues – despite facing a long, drawn out departure in May.
Last week, the Blues head coach sensationally turned down a contract extension at the capital city region, preferring instead to back his talent, go back onto the open market and find another challenge.
Having spent more than a decade working his way up through the coaching ranks to earn the right to fill one of the top four posts in Welsh rugby below international level it was a decision that spoke volumes about the current situation at the Blues. They wanted him to stay, he stuck to his principles!
“I will leave with a heavy heart because I’ve built a lot of relationships with players and staff and it would have been nice to keep moving on with the project,” said Wilson.
“But I am fully aware that in business things change. When things change you have to make the relevant decisions and that’s what I’ve done.
“Who knows what’s around the corner or what I might move on to. I made a decision based on the situation I am in now and I didn’t want to re-sign with the club. I am more than comfortable with that decision and I am 100 per cent sure that is the correct decision for me and my family.
“It is a case of needs must because of the situation the Blues are faced with. We worked towards a three-year plan, but things had to change. The land has changed and the plan has changed.”
Wilson has consistently refused to hang out the obvious dirty linen for public consumption, but being told to continually cut his playing budget simply left him in an impossible position. ‘Give youth its chance’ maybe the new mantra at the Arms Park, but how many games will that win them in the short term?
There is no doubting the talent coming through at the Blues – Seb Davies, Tomas Williams, Rhun Williams, Jarrod Evans, Kieran Assiratti, Corey Domachowski, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Owen Lane, Jack Roberts are all ones to watch for the future.
But as the head coach in 2017 Wilson’s job is as more to deal with the here and now, rather than hope things get better in an uncertain future. All of a sudden his three-year plan has been jettisoned, the cash has been cut and the Blues hierarchy are chasing yet another new head coach.
The interesting point now will be to see who actually wants to take on the role. There have been global searches for the top man in the past, but what sort of coach is going to want to take on what is increasingly becoming a poisoned chalice?
“I was grateful to the Blues for the offer of a new contract, but I decided not to sign. You don’t take these things lightly and circumstances have changed quite a lot in the last six months,” added Wilson.
“That made me consider my options and my future. I hoped a couple of things might have changed or developed but, after a couple of meetings, I gave them my decision because they needed to get on with their recruitment.
“I hope, long term, the future changes and that the Blues can challenge at the top end of competitions once again. With the uncertainty at the moment that is a different circumstance.
“There are some good young players coming through and my job now is to give those young players the exposure they need to make sure that they become ready for the future. That’s the route the region has stated they want to go down and I will work extremely hard to do that.
“My motivation will never be any different – if I’m paid to do a job as a professional coach then I will work my hardest to fulfil my side of that arrangement. I have always prided myself on beong up front and honest with the players and they are fully aware of the circumstances.
“It is obviously not ideal, but it is what it is. We are all professionals paid to do a job and our focus is on rugby.
“I’m sure the club will be working hard to find a plan that suits the situation we are in. I am part of that right now and I will continue to work hard and wish Cardiff Blues the best of luck as and when I leave.
“I am focussed on my job and improving on the start we have had, starting with a big derby on Friday night.”
Will the Dragons add to the agony of Blues fans at Rodney Parade this weekend? Bernard Jackman can sniff an opportunity, especially against a team missing Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins, Ellis Jenkins and Gareth Anscombe.
Who was it that said things are likely to get worse before they get any better? He or she might well have been right!