Dragons Fitness Coach Paul Bunce worked with the academy last season before moving up to work alongside the senior side and is delighted to see the academy members get their chance saying, "Both Alex and Gareth have worked hard physically over the last year and the way they are playing at the moment represents all their hard work paying off. It's good to see academy members given an opportunity and I'm sure they'll be up for the game in all aspects. I think it has shown the academy system is starting to allow regions to have a development process which sees players who have the necessary attributes step up. All regions need to rely on strength of depth if they are to get through a long, tough season and Alex and Gareth are proof of this depth. Both have seen marked improvements in strength, size, speed and fitness over the past year."
Scrum half Alex Walker is another success story of the Gwent rugby system and is second only to Dwayne Peel for fastest service just one of several tests players go through to show their development. Alex too has been with the academy since its birth and has a definite hard edge about him as a player. Since his shoulder injury sustained in the middle of last season, which kept him out for three months, Alex has gone from strength to strength.
Walker said, "My opportunity has come sooner than expected especially as it is an important position on the pitch but it is nice to be given a chance. I was given game time against Bath and I will go into Friday night's match aiming to do the best I can. The academy has helped me prepare for the step up to professional regional rugby especially conditioning wise which means I am prepared for the rigours of the modern game. I am excited to be involved on Friday night and to make the starting XV. Glasgow will be a tough game and it is hard to go up to Scotland, we beat them on both occasions last season but this is our first competitive game of the season and there are things we have to work on if we are to get a result."
On the replacements bench Ben Daly has recovered from his elbow injury which forced him to leave the field last Friday night against Bath and he is joined by Dragons new comers Lee Harrison, Colin Charvis and Mike Hercus.
The Dragons recorded two wins from two last season against Glasgow beating them at Hughenden (15-21) and at Rodney Parade (32-18).
"The good thing is we know how to win at Glasgow but we are aware of the challenge they pose and are not underestimating them in the slightest," continued Paul. "We welcome Ian and Steve back into the squad and they will add some steel to our pack. Training has gone well this week and we will look to take what we have done on the training paddock onto the field at Hughenden. What has been especially pleasing is the players attitude and there is tremendous spirit in the squad which is hugely important. The new players have settled in well and contributed both on and off the field so we travel to Glasgow with a real buzz around the squad."
Dragons Starting XV
Gareth Wyatt, Nathan Brew, Gareth Maule, Ceri Sweeney, Aled Brew, Craig Warlow (c), Alex Walker, Adam Black, Steve Jones, Rhys Thomas, Bryn Griffiths, Ian Gough, Joe Bearman, Jamie Ringer, Nic Fitisemanu.
Ben Daly, Lee Harrison, Andrew Hall, Colin Charvis, Shane Stewart, Mike Hercus, Gareth Baber.