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Dragons sign Bradley Roberts four days after Hibbard retirement

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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New Wales hooker Bradley Roberts will join Dragons from Ulster for the 2022/23 season, the 26-year-old South African-born forward believing that being based at one of the Welsh regions will enhance his Test level selection prospects in the long term.

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The 26-year-old Roberts, who qualifies for Wales via his paternal grandmother from Ceredigion, made his Test debut during the Autumn Nations Series earlier this season and the new Dragons recruit is now in the Wales Guinness Six Nations squad currently preparing to face Ireland in a tournament opener.

From Durban, Roberts made his debut off the bench versus his native South Africa when Wayne Pivac turned to the Ulster player to help solve the injury crisis that affected his team for the November campaign.

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Ruan Pienaar talks about the South African teams in the URC
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Ruan Pienaar talks about the South African teams in the URC

Having spent a season with RGC in the Welsh Premiership, Roberts made a November 2020 Ulster debut for Dan McFarland’s Irish side and he has now played with them on a dozen occasions, his efforts catching the eye of the Dragons who have a hooker berth to fill on their roster following last week’s retirement with immediate effect of veteran Richard Hibbard because of injury.

“I’m really excited by the challenge ahead of me,” said Roberts, who will be released back to Ulster for some URC game time before rejoining the Wales squad ahead of their February 5 match in Ireland.

“It’s a new opportunity and after only a few seasons at this level, I’m determined to keep moving forward. I spoke to Dean (Ryan) about the Dragons and it’s a young group that is building for the future. I’m eager to add to that and be a part of that journey. The move to Dragons means I can also keep pushing to be part of the Wales set-up.

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“I have only just started with that and I want to add to those experiences. I’m looking forward to linking up with the Dragons but for now, my focus remains on Ulster, the next few months with Wales and a strong end to this season.”

Dragons boss Ryan added: “We are really pleased that Bradley will join us and that he sees Dragons as the right environment for him to keep improving. Bradley obviously has international aspirations as he makes the return to Wales and we look forward to him competing for selection from next season.”

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