GLASGOW v DRAGONS (Tomorrow, KO 7.30)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons tighthead Nathan Buck is attempting to block out the critics that are touting others for his job – and save the region some dosh in the process.
There are plenty of theories about what is behind the Rodney Parade region’s miserable start to the season.
And a common gripe is a perceived lack of grunt up front following precious little investment on the tight five over the summer.
Given that prime tightheads Buck and Dan Way are both incredibly young in propping years, it is understandable that many would like to see a seasoned campaigner added to the Dragons’ roster to shoulder some of the burden and aid their development.
But 23-year-old Buck, who penned a three-season deal in the summer, is hopeful that he can prove his doubters wrong.
“It is hard to read sometimes when people say that they want to bring in a new tighthead,” said the prop from Gilwern.
“But I just have to get on with it, try to silence a few people and save the region a bit of money hopefully!
“I just want to keep developing as a prop and show what I can do because I feel a lot more confident in my scrummaging and feel that I know a lot more thanks to Iestyn (Thomas, set piece coach).”
Former Wales loosehead Thomas joined the Dragons in the summer after he was forced to retire because of a neck injury.
Buck believes that the 35-year-old from Pontypool is making great strides after succeeding ex-forwards coach Danny Wilson.
He said: “I’m sure Iestyn is itching to get involved in the sessions and I bet he would still be pretty tasty if he could!
“This time last season he was in the scrum himself and knows what tightheads have done to him through the years at the Scarlets and with Wales.
“I believe that our scrum is getting better week by week and that he is doing a lot of good work with us.
“We did a lot of live scrums last year but I think it’s a bit more technical now and Iestyn is working hard on our profiles.”
The pack face another test of their scrummaging credentials when they travel to high-flying Glasgow tomorrow. The Scottish side are third in the table and are chasing their sixth Pro12 win on the spin.
“They’ve got a very good set piece that went well against Ulster in the Heineken Cup,” said Buck.
“Glasgow is a hard place to go even though they have a fair few players away with Scotland.”