Jones expecting big things from Dragons' new training home
15 August 2014 16:27pm
By Rob Cole
Head Coach Kingsley Jones reckons the Newport Gwent Dragons' new lair will propel the region up the Guinness PRO12 table.
The Men of Gwent recently moved into their brand-new, state of the art training facility at the Caerphilly County Borough Centre of Sporting Excellence. The Ystrad Mynach base boasts two innovative 3G pitches as well as a gymnasium fit for elite rugby stars.
After years of splitting training between Rodney Parade and Newport High School, Jones is expecting his side to challenge at the top end of the PRO12 table after nine seasons outside the top seven league places.
"These facilities bring a buzz and a real lift to the group. It's new, it's fresh and there's no excuse for failure any more. The surface helps everything and the players are really benefiting from the gym, they look in great physical condition," said Jones.
"It's a real positive start and a chance to have a fresh start after 10 years of the Newport Gwent Dragons. We've put a line in the sand after an unsuccessful time and we're going to move the region forward."
The Rodney Parade region travel to Clifton this Sunday to take on Bristol Rugby in the first of three pre-season friendlies ahead of the new PRO12 campaign. They kick-off against Connacht at the Sportsground on September 6 and Jones is hoping the new environment, as well as their new signings, can bring success to Gwent.
"We're not here to finish 11th. We have to push up the table and Lyn Jones has worked hard to get the new players in for this season. Bristol will be a fantastic exercise for us we will see how we're improving and what we still need to work on," added Jones.
"There will be a lot of holes in our game with so many new players but it will be a great workout. The new boys have driven the standards up and created a really professional environment.
"The young players are copying that behaviour and that's exactly what we wanted when we signed them."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.