There’s something brewing in Newport.
Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman is building a team ahead of the 2018/19 season that could potentially rival the best in the Pro14. That squad was bolstered today with news that Wales hooker Richard Hibbard will also join at the end of the current season from Gloucester.
The Dragons recruitment drive, buoyed by new financial clout care of the WRU and private investment, means they can now for the first time in a long time, talk about competing at the top end of the table and not the bottom.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a theoretical XV that the Dragons could field next season. Yes, some big names would have to sign and some contracts would have to be bought out, but it makes for an impressive side.
15 Jordan Williams
It isn’t hard to see why the Dragons were so eager to sign highly-rated Williams, who could face a battle with Springbok veteran Zane Kirchner.
14 Hallam Amos
The winger who’s studying medicine in Cardiff was Wales first choice winger during the November Tests and showed his surgical skills on the wing, scoring tries against Australia and Georgia.
13 George North
Increasingly used by Saints as an option at centre, if the Welsh superstar were lured to the region and he could potentially form a sizeable midfield partnership with Jack Dixon on his inside.
12 Jack Dixon
Maybe not quite a household name just yet, in 2011 the 6’2, 105kg Dixon became the youngest player to ever play professionally for the Dragons at the age of just 16 years and 313 days. The Dragons also boast a number of other centre options including former Northampton Saints centre Pat Howard (an SA project player) and Carmarthen born Adam Warren.
11 Ashton Hewitt
Maybe the standout back this season, the 23-year-old Hewitt brings a lethal mix of footwork, pace and power.
10 Gavin Henson
Set to agree terms on another year at the region, veteran pivot Henson has proved invaluable for the Dragons and is departing knowledge to up and coming flyhalf Angus O’Brien. Some hold out hope that may even one day play for Wales again.
9 Rhodri Williams
Having signed from Bristol, the livewire scrumhalf will have had two high scoring seasons at Bristol under his belt before returning to Wales where he will hope to add to his three Welsh caps.
8 Toby Faletau
If the Dragons can buy the British and Irish Lion Number 8 out of his two year contract at Bath, he would represent probably the biggest signing in the club’s history. Hard to quantify just how big a coup his return to Rodney Parade would be.
7 Oliver Griffiths
The former Welsh U20s captain, Griffiths has already captained the region and is being talked about in glowing terms. Dragons could just as easily deploy the hugely efficient and effective James Benjamin in his place, as he has just signed a three year deal.
6 Ross Moriarty
A huge statement of intent was made when the Jackman secured the signing of the former British and Irish Lions bruiser. Will provide much of the hard nose Jackman is so desperate to imbue his pack with.
5 Cory Hill
Capped eight times for Wales, Hill made his international debut last year and was vice-captain of this year’s summer tour before the Lions came calling in July.
4 Luke Charteris
Another player that could potentially be bought out of his Bath contract, the 6’9, 125kg giant is one of the best lineout locks in Europe and would add size, experience and huge rugby IQ to the team. Has an able apprentice in 6’6, 116kg Matthew Screech.
3 Leon Brown
The 6’3, 126kg Brown made his debut for Wales this November and is fast becoming the cornerstone of Jackman’s pack. Will however have to fight it out with the sizeable Lloyd Fairbrother and Sam Hobbs on the tighthead side.
2 Richard Hibbard
Will have a battle on his hands with young Welsh hooker Elliot Dee, Hibbard brings a shock of blonde hair and masses of ball carrying endevour and road miles to boot.
1 Ryan Bevington
The former Opsreys loosehead joins from Bristol and will be hopeful of adding to his 15 Welsh caps. Will have to contend with Brok Harris and several other young props looking to make their name at the region.
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