FORMER Newport Gwent Dragons and Wales hooker Lloyd Burns will swap the oval ball for pedal power later this year, to raise money for a heart charity.

The 29-year-old, forced to retire from the game shortly after breaking into the Wales team at the 2011 World Cup, has signed up for the 250-mile Gavin 2 Stacey bike ride, from Billericay in Essex to Barry, in August.

He hopes to raise vital funds for the charity Welsh Hearts’ Dai Fib Appeal, which provides lifesaving defibrillators and heart equipment across the country.

Mr Burns is also a patron for the charity, and is inspired by his mum Katerene, whose life was saved by a heart defibrillator after she suffered a cardiac arrest seven years ago.

He said: “My mother was basically saved by a defibrillator, hence the reason why I want to help as much as I can to get defibrillators into as many places as possible in Wales.”

After years as a semi-professional with Cross Keys, Mr Burns broke into the Newport Gwent Dragons squad and then the Wales team, winning seven caps.

But his career was ended in April 2012 after suffering a neck injury during a scrummaging session. Tests revealed damage to the aorta, the largest artery in the body, that means he may one day need heart surgery. He now coaches at Pontypool schools.

Mr Burns also backed Jack’s Appeal, launched by the Argus and parents of Oakdale teen Jack Thomas – who died two years ago, aged 15 – which is raising money to provide all Gwent high schools with a defibrillator.

The ride takes place from August 22 to August 24. To take part or donate, call 02920 786521 or email