Dragons: We have to produce more Wales stars
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have admitted they are falling short after producing just one member of the Wales squad for the autumn internationals.
Number eight Toby Faletau was the sole Dragons representative in the 35 players named by interim coach Rob Howley for the Tests against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
Fellow back row forward Dan Lydiate would have doubled the region’s tally were it not for injury while Beale revealed the Wales set-up asked about the medical status of wing/full-back Tom Prydie, prop Phil Price and hooker Sam Parry.
But Faletau was the only Dragons star to make the grade, meaning that the region provide fewer players than Perpignan – who boast James Hook and Luke Charteris in their ranks – for the Autumn Tests.
“It is disappointing but I can assure you that the drive is to produce as many players as we can for that national team,” said Dragons director of rugby Robert Beale.
“If you are providing more players you are rewarded financially and that’s only right so it’s up to us to get more players into that Wales set-up.
“We had five in the World Cup squad and that was fantastic for us a region but unfortunately we’ve lost three of those players (Charteris and Aled Brew to France, Lloyd Burns retired because of injury).
“We are proud of what we have done. Yes, we’d like to do more but we are moving in that direction.
“Our academy system has proved that it is working; our current squad has Ashley Smith, Lewis Evans, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau among those from it.
“The next breed is Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Ieuan Jones and under that is some exciting talent in our age-grade teams, so we do hope to do better in the coming years.”
The immediate task facing the Dragons is how to stop an Ulster side that head to Rodney Parade searching for an eighth straight win this season.
The Irish province are packed with top homegrown talent along with expensive imports such as former All Blacks tighthead John Afoa, South African half-back Ruan Pienaar and powerful Kiwi number eight Nick Williams.
While Welsh rugby suffered a whitewash in Europe last weekend and scratches its head in a bid to stop the player drain, Irish rugby is in rude health with three strong challengers in both the Pro12 and Heineken Cup.
“You have to admire Ireland and the way that they have put their money where their mouth is,” said Beale.
“They have invested in their four provincial teams and are playing an exciting and winning brand of rugby.
“They’ve got it right at their provincial teams whereas we’ve probably got it right at the elite end of the game with our national team.
“It’s a model that I am sure the Welsh Rugby Union and Regional Rugby Wales are looking at closely.”