Rees to join Cardiff

Western Telegraph: Matthew Rees has played 57 times for Wales Matthew Rees has played 57 times for Wales

Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of former Wales captain Matthew Rees on a two-year contract.

Rees, 32, will move to the Arms Park next season after spending nine years with the Scarlets.

The 57 times-capped hooker was a Test player on the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa and he is part of the Wales squad currently preparing for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Rees is expected to be in the Wales match-day 23 for the Six Nations opener against Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday week.

"Leaving the Scarlets has been a tough decision to make after being there for so many years," he said. "The Scarlets is where I established myself as a player. However, I feel that this is the right decision at this point in my career. For me personally, I feel that moving to the Blues will provide me with a fresh, new challenge that I am ready to tackle."

The Blues will lose Rees's Wales colleague Jamie Roberts to French club rugby next season, while Exeter announced the capture of their wing Tom James, another Wales international, on Thursday.

So Rees's arrival comes as a considerable boost to the Blues and also ends speculation about where he would play his domestic rugby next term. Rees, who has skippered Wales eight times, said he will leave the Llanelli-based Scarlets with "great memories".

"I am grateful to all my Scarlets colleagues, coaches and supporters for their backing over the years," he added. "And I will leave at the end of this season with great memories. I am proud of all that has been achieved during my time at the Scarlets, and it was a huge honour to captain the team for two seasons."

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby said: "Matthew has contributed a great deal to the region during his years with us. He has set high standards, made a mark for others to aspire to and been a strong mentor for a number of our younger forwards in recent years, pushing their development forward.

"We respect Matthew's reasons for moving to a new region, and wish him all the very best with the Cardiff Blues. He leaves with our sincere thanks, gratitude as a region and respect for all he has done and achieved in a Scarlets shirt."

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