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Dragons sign Scarlets prop, Cardiff sign Bristol flanker

Nicky Thomas

Both the Dragons and Scarlets have announced respective signings this morning.

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Scarlets tight-head prop Nicky Thomas has joined Dragons until the end of January as cover, after Brok Harris was ruled out for four months following shoulder surgery.

Thomas, 23, played for Wales under-20s for two seasons and returned to Wales from Gloucester by signing for the Scarlets last autumn. The front rower has played eight games for the region since his switch to Parc y Scarlets, before going out on loan to Bristol at the start of the current campaign.

Born in Swansea, Thomas also played five times for the Ospreys before graduating through Hartpury College academy to join Gloucester. Although Nicky arrives with immediate effect the Dragons aren’t able to register him for Friday’s crucial European Rugby Challenge Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons.

“I would like to thank the Scarlets and Wayne Pivac for allowing Nicky to come to us,” said Dragons Head Coach Bernard Jackman.

“Nicky had been at Bristol over the past few months and he made a big impression on and off the pitch there.

“He played with a lot of our players at age grade level and is one of the best scrummaging tight heads around.

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“Our scrum has been a real strong point for us this season and we want to continue to dominate in this area and I feel Nicky has the attributes to do that.

“He isn’t available for Friday night against Newcastle, but we will be able to call on him for the two big back-to-back Welsh derbies at Rodney Parade over Christmas.”

Brok Harris joins the lengthy Dragons injury list after picking up an injury in the GUINNESS PRO14 clash with Ulster at the start of this month, whilst Ollie Griffiths has also been ruled out for 8 weeks as he faces ankle surgery after leaving the field against Enisei last Friday.

Meanwhile Olly Robinson will return to Cardiff Blues after signing a long-term contract with the region.

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The openside flanker impressed while on loan from Bristol earlier this season, making nine appearances where he won widespread plaudits.

He returned to Bristol last week but has now agreed to re-join Wales’ Capital Region for next season.

Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland said: “Olly impressed everybody here while on loan from Bristol and we are very happy to bring him on board for next season.

“With so many Wales internationals in our back-row he will give us real strength in depth and we look forward to welcoming him back.”

During his time in the Welsh capital, Robinson picked up two man-of-the-match awards as he provided injury cover for Sam Warburton, Ellis Jenkins and James Botham.

He is thrilled to agree a long-term deal with the Blues and is relishing the competition for places in the back-row.

Robinson said: “I absolutely loved the last two months being with Cardiff Blues. It was brilliant to be playing so much in a great league and with a great bunch of boys so I’m delighted to be offered the chance to come back.

“To compete and learn from the likes of Sam Warburton and Ellis Jenkins is a really big driver for me and if we are all pushing each other then that’s all the better for both us as players and the club.”

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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