– 2008/9 season preview –

– 2008/9 season preview –
Club Details
Rodney Parade,
NP19 0UU

Stadium Capacity: 11,700
Website: www.newportgwentdragons.com
Founded: 2003

Last time around: Not a great season for the Dragons as they finished eighth, and the worst-placed Welsh region once again. Their main downfall was a lack of consistency, winning one week against superior opposition, only to follow it up with a disappointing defeat the next. Twice the Dragons put back-to-back victories together in the Magners League, but were never able to build from that position. With a lack of talent in the squad they struggled more often than not, although the emergence of Joe Bearman in the back row was a bonus for them.

This time: For the first time in their history the Dragons have been able to recruit several players who will make a significant difference to their ambitions. The biggest signing comes in the form of All Black hooker Tom Willis, who has signed a two-year deal, and will captain the side this season. There are still plenty of young players in the squad, but unlike last year, this time around they will have more senior players to guide them on the field. Expect the Dragons to turn in a better performance this season as they challenge for a Heineken Cup spot.

Coach: Paul Turner continues to wheel and deal with the Dragons as he searches for success with a limited squad. Credit where credit is due, Turner does an admirable job with the resources he has available to him. Seen as Wales' weakest region, Turner has several new signings to bolster his squad for the coming season, although he will have his work cut out once again. His main goal will be Heineken Cup qualification.

Captain: Fresh from New Zealand Tom Willis has been appointed captain of the Dragons for the coming season. Having captained both Waikato and the Chiefs he is no stranger to leading sides, especially those up against the odds. He will bring plenty of experience to the job, as well as a wealth of leadership skills.

One to watch: Having proved his worth in the Welsh Premiership fly-half Jason Tovey has been rewarded with a full-time contract. The Wales U20 number ten has a bright future, based on what we have seen thus far. A strong kicking game marks him out from the rest, as well as an eye for a gap and the ability to defend his channel. It will be a season of learning for the young stand-off but a valuable one at that.

Final 2008/09 league position prediction: 9th

Squad: James Arlidge, Joe Bearman, Adam Black, Lloyd Burn, Luke Charteris, Shaun Connor, Jamie Corsi, Rhodri Gomer Davies, Phillip Dollman, Lewis Evans, Wayne Evans, Richard Fussell, Duane Goodfield, Hugh Gustafson, Andrew Hall, Lee Harrison, Adam Jones, Steve Jones, Danny Lydiate, Gareth Maule, Kevin Morgan, Richard Parks, Jamie Ringer, Gethin Robinson, Tal Selley, Rory Sidey, Ashley Smith, Marc Stcherbina, Martyn Thomas, Rhys M. Thomas, Jason Tovey, Grant Webb, Andy Williams, Tom Willis, Gareth Wyatt.

Colours: Black and Amber (home) Amber (away)

Tickets: Range from £3 to £25

Travel connections:

Car: If approaching from the West take Exit 26 from the M4 and head for Malpas Road then take 2nd exit off roundabout before the 1st exit across River Usk at the second roundabout. At traffic lights bear right onto Chepstow Road, take 1st right onto Cedar Road, 1st right onto Corporation Road and 1st left onto Grafton Road. From the East take Exit 25a and follow the same directions.

Train: Newport train station is a twenty minute walk from Rodney Parade, although taxis run reguarly from outside the station.

Bus: The bus station is a five minute walk from the stadium.

Plane: The nearest International airport is Cardiff Wales Airport. The airport is situated approximately thirty minutes drive from Rodney Parade. For further information please call 01446 711111.