Ospreys snap up one-man front row Dimitri Arhip
THE Ospreys hope they have found the answer to a potential strength-in-depth crisis at the region — a powerhouse one-man front row from Moldova.
Dimitri Arhip has signed a contract that will tie him to the region to the end of the campaign, subject to a work permit, with an option to extend for a further year.
The 19-cap Moldovan international is that rarity, a front-row forward who can play in all three positions at the sharp end, loose-head prop, hooker and tight-head.
At 5ft 10in and 17st 4lb he is also built for battle. “He is like a square,” said an Ospreys source.
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Andy Lloyd, rugby operations manager at the region, said: “Dimitri will be with us at the start of November and his arrival will be quite timely as we are likely to lose a number of front-row players to international duty.
“When that is the case, it’s important to ensure we have the strength in depth that will allow us to remain competitive as a group regardless of international commitments, and with the size of our contribution to the Welsh squad we felt that it was appropriate to bring Dimitri in.
“His versatility will be a huge asset as he will cover three positions, giving the coaches extra options.
“He is an immensely strong, powerful player, and we are looking forward to welcoming him to the region.”
The 23-year-old began his career at Kishniev Blue Marine, moving to Dinamo Bucharest in Romania where he won the national title before transferring to Russia to play for Yenisey-STM Krasnoyarsk, helping them to the 2011 Superleague title.
He is currently involved in the end-of-season play-offs in Russia, his club once again booking their place in the final, and will link with the Ospreys after the Russian Superleague final at the end of the month.
Head coach Steve Tandy said: “We’ve had a couple of recommendations from agents, we’ve seen Dimitri play and he’s been over here for a week.
“The conditioners are pretty happy with him in the gym.
“He’s a real good lad and physically he suits what we want. Hopefully, we can get a real quality player out of him.”
The Ospreys have been forced to adapt their recruitment strategy to the changed financial circumstances in Welsh rugby.
“With the salary cap and tighter budgets you have to make the best of what you’ve got,” added Tandy.
“To stay within the cap we have to scour all parts of the world to get to where we want to go with limited resources.”