Dragons lock Luke Charteris will be at the helm once again as the Men of Gwent take on Leinster in the Magners League on Sunday (2:30pm, Rodney Parade)
“Luke has been doing a fantastic job as our captain,” said Dragons Acting Head Coach Darren Edwards. “Losing Tom Willis was tough on the team but Luke has stepped up – both in his personal performances but also in his leadership. He has been on great form and really leading the side from the front.”
With an unchanged tight-five, back row Danny Lydiate has been rested following his outstanding Six Nations campaign but rising star Toby Faletau comes in for a start at 8. Back row Gavin Thomas has been given the all-clear to return to playing after the jaw injury he picked up against Sale back in February and will start on the bench.
With Pat Leach out, Tom Riley comes into the centres and young gun Matthew Pewtner joins returning under 20 scrum half Jon Evans on the bench.
“Although the result last weekend was not what we were hoping for with 5 minutes to go,” said Edwards, “Ravenhill is a tough ground and Ulster are a strong side so to go there and really test them the way we did shows how well the players took the lessons of the previous week’s trip to Gloucester and upped their game.
“Leinster may still be missing some of their Irish internationals but that hasn’t stopped them winning over the last few weeks. They are a European squad with a great depth of talent so this weekend’s game will be tough. All the boys want now is to get out onto the Rodney Parade field in front of our own fans and perform”
Newport Gwent Dragons team for Leinster
Martyn Thomas, Will Harries, Adam Hughes, Tom Riley, Aled Brew, Jason Tovey, Wayne Evans, Phil Price, Lloyd Burns, Dan Way, Luke Charteris, captain), Adam Jones, Joe Bearman, Lewis Evans, Toby Faletau
Steve Jones, Hugh Gustafson, Ben Castle, Adam Brown, Gavin Thomas, Matthew Pewtner, Matthew Jones, Jon Evans
Referee: Andy Macpherson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: David Bodilly, Simon Harris (WRU).
TMO: Tony Rowlands (WRU).