There have been a number of summer exits at Rodney Parade, with Jonathan Evans and Andy Powell being the biggest names to depart, whilst Ian, Gough, Lee Byrne and Ashley Smith all retired. 28 year-old Smith was forced to retire due to multiple concussions – he had been with the region since 2005 and made 160 appearances for the club. With club captain Lee Byrne’s departure, former Welsh hooker Thomas Rhys Thomas has been named as the new captain.
“I am truly honoured to have been selected as captain for the coming season. I thoroughly enjoyed leading the team last year, with the challenge being to guide young Gwent talent to the next level,” expressed the 25-times capped forward.
Scrum-half Charlie Davies is the man tasked with replacing the influential scrum-half Evans, having re-signed seven years after leaving the club. Adam Warren is another new addition who will play an important role this season, along with Carl Meyer - who has signed a full-time deal with the region. The midfield duo will be expected to help fill the void left by rising star Jack Dixon, who faces a lengthy spell on the side-lines with an Achilles injury.
The Dragons have brought through a vast number of youngsters over the past 18 months and have started to see the fruits of their labour. Hallam Amos has been included in this month’s World Cup squad, whilst Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan made the 47-man training squad, whilst Ollie Griffiths signed a professional deal after making seven appearances last season and captaining Wales U20’s at the World Rugby Under 20 Championships. Another youngster who is expected to feature this season will be 19 year-old prop Keagan Bale.
Tyler Morgan is expected to feature in Friday night’s opener, after his release from the Welsh squad whilst Nick Croswell has recovered from a knock. Elliot Dee and Andrew Coombs are expected to miss out on the clash, with both hoping to make swift returns in the coming weeks.