Blues strengthen pack for forthcoming season

Guinness PRO12 Editor

16 Apr 2012


Cardiff Blues can confirm they have signed Fijian international prop forward Campese Ma’afu and 24-year-old blindside flanker Robin Copeland from Rotherham, ahead of the new season

Born and raised in Australia to a Tongan father and a Fijian mother, prop Campese Ma’afu has joined the Cardiff Blues from West Harbour Pirates in Sydney, Australia.

The middle of three talented rugby brothers – older brother Salesi has represented Australia while younger brother Kuki has featured for Tonga at Sevens.

In 2010 the two brothers Salesi and Campese, squared off against each other in a test match between Australia and Fiji. Salesi played for the Wallabies at tight-head Prop while his brother Campese played for Fiji at loose-head prop.

Campese has gone on to win six caps for Fiji and featured against Wales in November 2010 when the match finished in a 16-16 draw.

Standing at 6′ 5″ tall and weighing 16 ½ stone, Robin Copeland possesses superb pace and has impressed many, scoring 11 tries in 20 games for the Rotherham Titans since joining from Plymouth last season.

The highly rated former Leinster Academy and St Mary’s College player will add presence to the Blues backrow next season.

Copeland – a marketing and event management graduate – is athletic and quick on his feet and has the potential to go a long way in the game.

Speaking of the signing, Cardiff Blues Forwards Coach Justin Burnell said:

“A big thing for us as a region and a team is that we should be looking at a three year cycle of establishing a group of players that will be here to build for the future.”

“Robin is a big physical boy with the ability to cross the gain-line but has the skills and finesse to put people in to finish via his decision making.”

“He is twenty four years old and has been the outstanding player in the Championship this year.”

“We watched his games a few times, assessed his performances and then viewed him and met him.”

“It’s important that the player has the right attitude and mind set to fit into the environment. We went through that process and he ticked all the boxes.”

“He might be and unknown quantity with the PRO12 but he will be a surprise package as well.”

“He’s a blindside flanker and also covers second row, in a similar bill to Andries Pretorius, who also came in as an unknown quantity.”

“We will be looking for him to play alongside Andries and Michael Paterson and the battle hardened, experienced Xavier Rush.”

Speaking of the signing Ma’afu, Burnell added.

“Campese Ma’afu came to my attention in the 16-all-draw against Wales.”

“I thought he did well in the scrum in certain aspects against Adam Jones, who as we know, is one of the best tight-heads in the world.”

“To see him scrum in the World Cup and against New Zealand in the warm up games showed he’s an exciting prospect.”

“I’m pleased with the two signings who are on two year contracts with Campese working alongside Scott Andrews, Sam Hobbs and Marc Breeze.”

“I think they are more than capable of accounting well for themselves.”

“These players are obviously also within our price bracket. For example Gethin Jenkins, who has been a fantastic servant for the Blues, is going to Toulon and we can’t compete with the budgets that some of these big French clubs have.”