Newport Gwent Dragons Head Coach, Kingsley Jones has named the side that will face Ulster Rugby this Friday night in the Guinness PRO12 opener at Kingspan Stadium.
The Men of Gwent go into this match after playing three difficult pre-season friendlies against hard-hitting Premiership side Exeter Chiefs, Ealing Trailfinders and Cardiff Blues.
Once again Carl Meyer is selected at full-back alongside wingers Adam Warren and Pat Howard. The centre partnership also remains unchanged with newcomer Sam Beard getting the nod alongside Jack Dixon. The halfbacks also stay the same as Nick Macleod and Sarel Pretorius retain their positions.
The front row sees newcomers Sam Hobbs and Craig Mitchell come into play alongside hooker Thomas Rhys Thomas. The second row sees a mixture of youth and experience as Cory Hill joins forces with Rynard Landman, whilst the back row consists of flankers Ollie Griffiths, Nic Cudd and number 8 Ed Jackson.
Young flanker Ollie Griffiths is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead this season; “My first game for the Dragons was Ulster away.
“Ulster always have a good crowd and are a strong team with a lot to offer so it will be a challenge, but the Exeter game should stand us in good stead, especially the first 50 minutes. Exeter are one of the best teams we will come up against all season so sharpen up a few things and we will be in with a good shout.”
Looking at the appearances he has made for the Region, Griffiths continued; “I don’t mind whether it’s 6 or 7 as long as I am out there on the park. As soon as I started getting a run of games together last season I did my hamstring so it’s just good being back out there with the boys.
“I like getting my hands on the ball and carrying, so a fast game suits me. We’ve had a good exciting style of play in pre-season and I hope that we can continue that into the season and build on it.”
The replacements bench sees the return of skipper Lewis Evans and Welsh International Tyler Morgan. They join Rhys Buckley, Tom Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Nick Crosswell, Charlie Davies and Angus O’Brien.
Newport Gwent Dragons team to face Ulster Rugby
15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Warren, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Sarel Pretorius; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas ©, 3 Craig Mitchell 4 Cory Hill, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Nic Cudd, 8 Ed Jackson.
Replacements; Rhys Buckley, Tom Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Nick Crosswell, Lewis Evans, Charlie Davies, Angus O’Brien, Tyler Morgan.