CROSS Keys have bolstered their pack by signing hooker Jon Howard from Championship runners-up Cardiff Met, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Pandy Park outfit, who were beaten by Pontypridd in finals of both the Principality Premiership and the Swalec Cup, have retained the core of their squad are not expecting a busy summer of recruitment.
They hope that the arrivals of flanker Jack Condy, who played three games for Keys on permit last season and skippered Penallta to WRU Youth Cup glory at the Millennium Stadium, and Wales Students front row forward Howard will add to their strength in depth.
The hooker has been tipped to impress by the man who coached Wales Under-21s to three Grand Slams and six titles.
"Jon is highly recommended by Cardiff Met director of rugby Chris Davey so he must be decent and we are confident that he will be a strong addition to our squad," said Keys head coach Greg Woods.
"He comes to us on the back of a strong Championship season and hopefully he will keep developing so that it's a real battle for the start at hooker with Darren Hughes and Henry Palmer.
"We feel that we have competition for places throughout the squad and the emphasis for next season is about improving individually, because we showed last year that we weren't far off."
Keys will be keen for Howard to follow the lead of Hughes, who signed from Championship side Newbridge last summer.
The 24-year-old was voted as players' player of the season after making 28 appearances and impressing as successor to influential hooker Gerwyn Price.
Captain and centre Leon Andrews was named as player of the year at the end of season awards night while number eight Adam Powell took the supporters' vote.
Openside flanker Scott Matthews, who is with Wales Under-20s at the Junior World Championship, took the most promising player award to go along with his Premiership newcomer of the year honour.
Former Newport Gwent Dragons forward Jevon Groves was named as clubman of the year after helping coach the pack along with making 11 appearances while wing Nathan Trowbridge and Dorian Jones were congratulated for finishing as top try and points scorers respectively.