Jack Dixon aims to make a big splash at Bath
AS JAMIE Roberts prepares to head over the English Channel, a collision-loving centre will attempt to cement his place in the Newport Gwent Dragons midfield.
Jack Dixon will try to make an impression on his first start of the season in the LV= Cup at Bath this afternoon.
The 17-year-old from Newbridge is tipped for big things by his regional coaches with power that is said to belie his youth.
The hope is that Dixon will be a mainstay of the Dragons’ midfield in years to come and will eventually force his way into the international set-up.
But for now the 6ft 2ins youngster, who has been impressing in the colours of high-flying Bedwas in the Premiership, is more than happy to look up to his idols.
“I see myself as a Jamie Roberts-type player,” said Dixon, who scored a try after coming off the bench in last month’s Amlin Challenge Cup loss at Wasps.
“I like the collisions but I’d also like to think I have the ability to create chances as well. I feel like I am learning every day in training and through working with the coaches and the more experienced players.
“I have got a big chance against Bath and it’s up to me to rise to the challenge because I want to get as much game time as I can.”
Dixon and Monmouth School pupil Hallam Amos both start at the Rec and will look to demonstrate why the coaching staff think of them so highly.
The pair both made their regional debuts in last year’s tournament – then 17-year-old Amos scoring a try at Wasps – and have penned three-year deals to stay at Rodney Parade.
The hope is that they will be trailblazers for the next batch of Dragons Academy talent.
“We’re working hard trying to push ourselves into the first XV," said Dixon.
“I suppose the pressure is on a bit with people looking for us to be examples but I like that and want to rise to the challenge.
“They obviously think that we have talent and we have to live up to their expectations.”
The Dragons recall Steffan Jones at fly-half and rest scrum-half Jonathan Evans, who has played in every game of the season so far.
Bedwas’ Liam Davies is handed the number nine jersey with Wayne Evans set for his first involvement of the season after recovering from back trouble to be on the bench.
Converted prop Hugh Gustafson gets the nod at hooker in between Owen Evans and Nathan Buck while Ian Nimmo and Adam Jones are paired together in the second row.
Blindside flanker Jevon Groves captains the side and provides some experience in the back row alongside openside Nic Cudd and number eight Ieuan Jones, who have made just three Dragons starts between them.
Bath have a dangerous set of backs that will be marshalled by England under-20s fly-half Tom Heathcote.
Outside of him will be an all-England international midfield of Dan Hipkiss and Matt Banahan while Fijian Semesa Rokoduguni makes his debut on the left wing.
Bath: O Devoto, O Woodburn, D Hipkiss, M Banahan, S Rokoduguni, T Heathcote, M McMillan, C Beech, B Sharman, A Perenise, S Hooper (captain), W Spencer, J Ovens, G Mercer, S Taylor. Replacements: W Tanner, K Dowding, K Palma-Newport, R Caldwell, W Skuse, C Cook, L Adamson, R Lane
Dragons: H Amos, W Harries, P Leach, J Dixon, R Wardle, S Jones, L Davies, O Evans, H Gustafson, N Buck, A Jones, I Nimmo, J Groves (captain), N Cudd, I Jones. Replacements: S Parry, N Williams, T Ryan, J Tyler, T Brown, W Evans, A Smith, D Evans.