15 for 10: Dragons - an all-decade XV
15 for 10 Dragons: To say it has been a difficult decade for the Dragons would be quite the understatement. Despite some thrilling young talent emerging, they have consistently been the worst region in Wales and too often fans have seen their best players leave for more successful sides or tormented by injury problems.
There have been a few false starts in recent years in the effort to improve the region’s fortunes but it does seem like Dean Ryan’s side might be ushering in a more promising decade. In the meantime, RugbyPass has put together a team of the decade, which features quite a few big names.
Encouragingly, most of them started young enough to take Dragons into the next decade with more hope.
15. Hallam Amos
Intelligent on the field as well as off, the trainee neurosurgeon is a versatile player with a lovely, balanced running style and a useful left foot. Injuries were a problem but, having broken through to the first team at 17 years and 28 days (then the youngest debut in Welsh regional rugby), he had plenty of time to make his mark.
14. Ashton Hewitt
One of many examples of the young talent Dragons have produced in the last decade, Hewitt made his debut in 2013 and, despite injury issues, has shown pace to burn and a handy nose for the try line. Dragons fans will hope he truly fulfils his potential.
13. Tyler Morgan
Yet another talented youngster with injury issues, Morgan’s lovely running game has lit up Rodney Parade often enough since his debut in 2013. Plenty of Wales fans will be hoping he can do the same for the national side going forward.
12. Jack Dixon
Dixon broke the record for the youngest player to play Welsh regional rugby (held by Hallam Amos who set the record earlier in the same match). More than 100 appearances and counting for the exciting centre who is still only 25.
11. Aled Brew
Tom Prydie scored 447 points in his five years at Rodney Parade but Brew remains the region’s highest try-scorer, topping the chart with 43. His departure was something of a surprise to fans at the time and the former sevens and fifteens international has proved a very useful acquisition for Bath.
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10. Jason Tovey
It says something that Sam Davies, who has been with the Dragons for six months, has a decent claim to this jersey but Tovey is the region’s record points scorer. He arguably didn’t reach the heights his talent promised but he was regularly one of the best performers during his two stints for Dragons this decade.
9. Rhodri Williams
Richie Rees put in a memorable two-year stint and Jonathan Evans was always a reliable player but Williams’ dancing feet and instinctive play have livened up this Dragons side since his arrival from Bristol, especially since Davies joined him in the half-backs.
1. Brok Harris
His experience and grunt have been sorely needed in a team so heavily reliant on youngsters and he has delivered his end of the bargain. His ability to cover both sides of the scrum is especially handy.
2. Elliott Dee
You’ve got to be some player to supplant a modern Welsh legend in a team of the decade but Dee, who has become a talisman for Dragons in his 100+ appearances since 2013, earns his spot. At only 25, he has a bright future ahead of him.
3. Leon Brown
Brown may only have 40 regional appearances to his name but his potential has been apparent every time and he has come on in proverbial leaps and bounds this season. Former Welsh international prop and current team-mate Aaron Jarvis thinks he could be one of the best tight-heads in the world in the future. How Dragons fans would welcome that.
4. Luke Charteris
Left the region early on at a time when the glitz and money of France was luring many a Welsh player overseas but was so good in his time that the former captain can’t be ignored. Another lock of his calibre would be extremely welcome in the Dragons squad these days.
5. Cory Hill (c)
Hill is one of the few talented youngsters in this side who didn’t come through the Dragons academy, instead having been released by Cardiff Blues. A hugely talented player who works his socks off while having the softer skill-set that is becoming increasingly essential for modern locks. Surely a future Wales captain, he gets to captain this side too.
6. Dan Lydiate
One thing that has been consistently excellent for the Dragons this decade has been their back row options. Lydiate played some of his best rugby during his time at the Dragons but there are plenty of rivals who might feel disappointed at being overlooked, not least Andrew Coombs, Ollie Griffiths, Harrison Keddie, and Aaron Wainwright.
7. Nic Cudd
In a nation of outstanding openside flankers, Cudd rarely gets a mention. Likewise, he has had arguably more noticeable regional colleagues in his position. But the dynamic flanker has given his all for the region since his arrival in 2012 and, at his best, there are few better jackallers in the league. His work with the Academy going forward will surely only strengthen the talent pipeline.
8. Taulupe Faletau
Surely the best player the region has ever had? He showed his class week in, week out for the Dragons before leaving, as so many of his teammates did, for Bath. The type of player who could probably cover any position on the pitch – and in style. Ross Moriarty was an exciting signing but his performances haven’t compared with the shifts Faletau put in.
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