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Stephens is latest Exiles recruit at Cardiff

Stephens is latest Exiles recruit at Cardiff

Slowly, but surely the Welsh exiles are coming home to test themselves in the BKT United Rugby Championship next season.

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The Dragons have secured the services of former Wales U20 hooker Oli Burrows, who has signed from Exeter Chiefs, Cardiff have picked up Newcastle Falcons wing Iwan Stephens and the Scarlets are in talks to try to bring in Wales World Cup prop Henry Thomas from Castres Olympique.

The 32-year-old tight head prop Thomas has won four Welsh caps to add to his seven for England. He has a Welsh father and qualified for Wales under the new World Rugby regulations which allow a player to switch countries three years on from winning their last cap for their first nation.

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Thomas began his senior career at Sale, spent seven years at Bath before moving to France to play for Montpellier in 2021. He spent last season at Castres.

Stephens is the son of former Scarlets and Wales outside half Colin Stephens and joins after spending the last two years in the senior squad at the Falcons. His father ended his career playing at Leeds and Iwan was born there.

He will arrive along with two more young back line talents who are returning to Wales from over the border – former Bath academy centre Steff Emmanuel and ex-Bristol Bears academy full back Tom Bowen.

Stephens grew up playing both codes of rugby before specialising in rugby league at the Leeds Rhinos academy. He played for England U16 at rugby league before winning caps for England U20 at rugby union after switching to Newcastle Falcons.

He scored a try on his Premiership debut at home to Harlequins in September 2021, going on to score in his next game away to Bath. A serious knee injury then curtailed his involvement in the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign, but he returned in time to make his England U20 debut in the Spring of 2021.

He won five caps for England U20, scoring two tries. He managed 11 tries in 25 appearances for the Falcons.

“I love the style of play at Cardiff and feel it suits my attributes and abilities. It will be a new city for me, a new environment and new league, so I am really looking forward to that challenge,” said the 22-year-old Stephens

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play with and against some of the best players in the world. I want to play as much rugby as I possibly can, do my all for the team and show the coaches and everyone at the club what I can do.”

Cardiff let Wales wing Owen Lane leave at the end of the season and will now add Stephens to a back three group that includes Cam Winnett, Jacob Beetham, Theo Cabango, Harri Millard, Gabriel Hamer-Webb and Josh Adams

“I’m excited to see what kind of impact Iwan can have at the club. He’s a ‘Cardiff’ type of player, who suits our style of and has a bit of X-factor to create something out of nothing. He is a player who will excite our supporters and enjoy the fast pitch at Arms Park.

“He will give us a bit more strength in depth on the wing and he is also Welsh-qualified. He will arrive at the club highly motivated to prove himself in a new environment.”

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