Any shirt fits for flexible Groves

Guinness PRO12 Editor

7 Sep 2012


Having played lock, blindside and openside flanker for the Newport-Gwent Dragons in the RaboDirect PRO12 over the last year Jevon Groves is fast becoming the club’s positional handy-man – but he draws the line at wing.

A former Wales 7s player, Groves is known for a turn of pace and started his rugby life at school as an outside back but he insists he wouldn’t be able to turn back now, even if he wanted to.

With Wales Grand Slammers Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau to glean tips off at Dragons training sessions it’s easy to see why Groves is sticking to the pack.

But within the back five of the scrum the 24-year-old insists he really doesn’t care where he plays and head coach Darren Edwards has taken full advantage of the 6ft 4in and 16st 12lbs forward’s flexibility.

In Luke Charteris’s absence last year, Groves won a handful of appearances alongside the experienced Robert Sidoli in the boiler room while the remainder of his 18 league appearances came in his preferred position of blindside.

But club captain Lewis Evans’s calf strain and Darren Waters’s long-term ACL injury, both picked up in pre-season, meant that Groves was thrust onto the openside for the club’s 37-6 win over new boys Zebre.

But to avoid being typecast as just a utility player Groves knows he’s got to go beyond the call of duty when his chances come along.

“Being versatile does help in selection but it can sort hinder and I can be seen as a bench boy,” said Groves.

“But that’s just sort of player I am. I play anywhere they ask me to. I just want to play for the Dragons because it is a privilege to play for them and I want to give 100% every time I pull on the jersey and hopefully that’s good enough.

“I played second row because of injuries last year but blindside is my favourite, although I’ll play anywhere but probably not wing, I haven’t played there since comprehensive school and I’ve grown a bit since!

“Because of the unfortunate injuries to Darren and Lewis I played seven against Zebre and the balance with Dan and his defence along with Toby’s attack was quite good.

“It makes it a lot easier for me when you have got world-class players playing with you and I managed to get over the ball and disrupt quite a bit after Dan made a tackle.”

While Groves is anticipating being shunted around again this season once Evans returns, he insists the Dragons as a team will be doing no such thing on the field.

The Dragons finished ninth last season and with the likes of Charteris, Aled Brew, Jason Tovey and Martyn Thomas having all departed for pastures new, their team – on paper at least – carries less clout.

But Groves insists that the idea of this season being one of transition hasn’t been entertained at Rodney Parade.

“If you speak to a lot of the guys down here they are ambitious,” he added. “We want to try and keep a 100% record at home .

“We had a good first game against Zebre and scored four tries in the first half and although we fell off in the second half we were very happy with it.

“If we do that and pick up a few wins on the road we could really challenge, even for the play-offs. We’ve got aspirations and hopefully we can do that.”