Newport Gwent Dragons Head Coach Paul Turner has announced Hoani MacDonald in his team for Sunday's EDF Energy Cup tie against English Premiership champions London Wasps at Adams Park, kick-off 3pm.
Hoani signed a two-year contract with the region in June and arrived at Rodney Parade last week fresh from the Air New Zealand Cup where he reached the semi finals with the Southland team.
The highly rated Super 14 forward has played for the Highlands for the past five years and also played with the Junior All Blacks in 2006/7 and for the Maoris in 2004 and 2008.
Paul Turner hopes that Hoani's arrival will boost a Dragons team determined to improve on the 3-3 result against Wasps in this competition last season.
The Head Coach knows that the Dragons need to be at their very best to stay in the competition following their victory against Newcastle Falcons in the EDF Energy Cup opener and a huge performance and a vital bonus point against Gloucester last weekend. Paul said:
"Hoani MacDonald arrived with us late last week and has trained well with the squad. He has a difficult task ahead of him this weekend in a very different environment but he is a quality guy and a great player and I'm sure he will relish the challenge. We missed a huge opportunity to beat the Wasps at home last season and the squad are looking to make sure that this does not happen again."
"I have been delighted with the development of the squad this season and we have proved that we can go away to English sides and compete as we have in the past fortnight against both Gloucester and Bath.
The Dragons need both the performance and the result this weekend at Adams Park. Paul added:
"While I was disappointed last weekend, the players put in a huge performance at Kingsholm and are fully aware that we need to be taking advantage of opportunities that we did not quite grasp last weekend.
"Adams Park is a great place to play rugby and the pitch allows a quick pace. The team will be at their best this weekend and, with Adam Jones out with injury, Hoani's arrival brings a positive boost to the squad."
Back home in New Zealand, thirty-year-old Hoani played alongside Dragons skipper Tom Willis and James Arlidge who has been named on the bench this weekend. Hoani said:
"I have heard only positives from the guys since they arrived here in the summer and can see for myself now that it's a great environment. The mood has been superb and there's a really friendly and hardworking group of players here."
"Having played with Tom Willis, James Arlidge and Grant Webb during my rugby career I was delighted to join the Dragons among such a high calibre of player and excited about becoming part of a strong squad of both new and existing talent."
He added: "The Dragons approached me with huge ambition and I'm here to challenge myself against the best in Europe, to experience the different structures and ultimately to contribute towards winning games for the region."
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