Cardiff Blues can today confirm that they have signed New Zealand international centre Casey Laulala, from New Zealand Super 14 side The Crusaders and former Wales and British and Irish Lions outside back, Dafydd James.
Twenty-seven year old Laulala made his debut for New Zealand against Wales in Cardiff in November 2004 and went on to play for the All Blacks against Ireland in 2006.
Described by many as one of the hardest players to contain in broken field play in the New Zealand game, Casey is the son of an airline pilot for Polynesian Airlines, and was schooled at Wesley College - the same south Auckland institution that gifted the world game former Cardiff Blue and international rugby superstar, Jonah Lomu.
Casey made his first class debut for Counties Manukau shortly after he featured in New Zealand's winning Under-19 team at the 2001 Junior World Cup in Chile. Laulala raised his 50th appearance for Canterbury during the team's Ranfurly Shield match against Auckland at the tail end of the last Air New Zealand Cup, and then brought up a half century of Super rugby appearances for the Crusaders against the Lions.
Laulala also scored the only try for the Crusaders in the 2006 Rebel Sport Super 14 final win against the Hurricanes, who had new Cardiff Blues team mate Paul Tito playing for them in the second row.
Speaking of the signing Cardiff Blues CEO, Robert Norster said;
"We are delighted to have finalised the signing of Casey for the forthcoming season. He is a quality player who has played at the highest level in New Zealand rugby over a number of years."
"Casey is not only a hard tackling centre but also a top line-breaker with great footballing abilities who is a difficult man to bring down. I'm sure he will prove to be another strong addition to our squad when he eventually arrives later in the Autumn following his Air New Zealand Cup commitments to Canterbury."
"Last season was a very successful one for the Cardiff Blues and we look forward to building on that platform supported by quality signings such as Casey as we make the move to our new home at Leckwith."
Born in Mufulira, Zambia, Dafydd James started his career at Pontypridd RFC before going on to win 48 caps for Wales at wing or centre, scoring 15 tries.
A player with a huge amount of experience of top-flight rugby, James became the first player in Heineken Cup history to score twenty-five tries in the tournament. James won an ERC Elite Award for his effort, the try came in his eleventh season of European rugby and in his fifty-first appearance in the Heineken Cup.
James has also toured with the British and Irish Lions playing in all three tests against Australia in 2001, scoring a try in the first test.
Speaking of the news, Dafydd James said, "It's a great opportunity for me to join a team that is certainly on the up after their performances last season."
"It's an exciting time to join the Blues as they move to the new stadium. They are probably the best supported team in Wales and had a huge amount of support last season in their Heineken Cup and EDF Cup matches."
"The Blues have quality on and off the pitch and Wales is such a small place I know a lot of the players from the Celtic Warriors days and playing for Wales, so I don't think there will be any problem settling in."
"It's and exiting time for me, I still have the desire to play for Wales and am totally motivated. I'm hungry to get back on the field and can't wait for the season to start."
"Dafydd, like Casey is also a hugely experienced player and will be a valuable addition to our squad," said Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby, David Young.
"Having agreed a ten month deal through Peter Grigg of Chase Sports Management, we look forward to welcoming Dafydd to the Blues almost with immediate effect. He has proved with Scarlets, Wales and the Lions that he can consistently perform at the highest level and he will provide another significant option for our team."
"Both these signings help to strengthened our player base in a number of key areas in preparation for what is sure to be another intense period of highly competitive domestic and international rugby."
"With our commitment to the national side evidenced by the increased number of Cardiff Blues players in the Wales squad, quality players such as Casey and Dafydd will ensure our playing resources are not as stretched as they sometimes have been over recent seasons."
"We saw this at the end of the last season with a build-up of games and unfortunate injuries to our international players such as Tom Shanklin and Tom James who will both miss the start of the season."
"With the Anglo-Welsh Cup matches now also being played during the autumn internationals and Six Nations having additional quality players joining the squad is great news for the strength of our team."
School club hub officers in schools throughout Wales are enriching lives by helping pupils to engage more with their education, their community and improve their own outlook on life and future prospects by improving confidence and developing skills such as leadership.
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips, WRU chairman Gareth Davies and Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies discuss the historic intentions of the governing body to assume operational control of the Newport Gwent Dragons, with a targeted completion date of 1st July.
Equal access to facilities and resources at St Helen's has seen Swansea Women flourish since being welcomed with open arms last July. Swansea RFC chairman Stephen Hughes and women's captain Siwan Lillicrap are delighted to see rapid progress being made on and off the pitch.
Young referee Ben Breakspear is making rapid strides as a referee. In just over a year he has gone from officiating a college game to being a touchline official during last weekend's RBS 6 Nations clash between Wales and Ireland at Principality Stadium.
Grand Slams, Triple Crowns and British and Irish Lions tours - Sir Gareth Edwards did it all. But what are his favourite moments in what was an amazing career? WRU TV finds out - along with his favourite players of today in the third and final instalment of our series with the greatest rugby player ever.
JPR Williams, Gerald Davies and Mervyn Davies were among those in the Welsh ranks when Sir Gareth Edwards began his international career against France nearly 50 years ago, but who was the player who took the young scrum half under their wing?
Wales head coach Rob Howley and captain Alun Wyn Jones are expecting a physical battle against France on Saturday but both are hoping for another impact from the bench as the men in red chase a top-four world ranking.
It's nearly 50 years since the great Sir Gareth Edwards made his debut as a youngster for Wales against France in Stade Colombes. In the first of a series, WRU TV discovers he pocketed a 'special momento' from the game - something he still has today.