Darren Edwards: Wales call-ups possible for Dragons young guns
DRAGONS v TREVISO (Tonight, KO 7.30)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons’ talented teens have been handed an added incentive ahead of tonight’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash with Treviso – impress and you can go on tour with Wales.
Centre Jack Dixon, 18, and number eight Ieuan Jones, 19, make their third successive starts for the region against the Italians at Rodney Parade while full-back Hallam Amos, 18, is on the bench.
The trio have been released from Wales Under-20s duty to feature for the Dragons and head coach Darren Edwards believes a strong finish to the season could lead to full international honours in the summer.
“These boys are in our team on merit and deserve their places in the team,” he said.
“If these boys finish off the season well with us then there’s a possible tour with Wales because they have got serious potential.
“It depends on how many Wales players make the Lions squad but there could be some slots available in Japan.
“It’s early (in their careers) but they have played in some high pressure games and the experience they are gaining on the field is vital. But now they need to kick on.”
The trio will be part of a Dragons side looking for revenge for a drubbing when the sides met in northern Italy in December.
Treviso ran in five tries in a crushing 32-13 win – their third win on the spin against the Dragons.
“Treviso beat us well out there and that hurts our pride,” said Edwards. “We need to put that at the forefront of our minds.”
However, the visitors are hampered by a lengthy list of absentees with 13 of their squad involved for Italy against Scotland tomorrow afternoon.
The Dragons make seven changes to the side that beat London Welsh, handing recalls to full-back Dan Evans, wing Will Harries, scrum-half Jon Evans, props Phil Price and Nathan Buck and flankers Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd.
And captain Lewis Evans is calling for a strong end to the Pro12 season, even if their hopes of avoiding being fourth-ranked region are slim.
Cardiff Blues are 14 points clear of the Dragons meaning it would take a miracle to qualify for next season’s Heineken Cup.
Blindside Evans said: “There’s not too much to go for despite personal gains but the boys just want to play well, represent the region well and get some credibility back by climbing slightly higher up the table.
“A few more wins and good performances and hopefully we will start to convince some of the doubters.
“It’s going to be difficult to catch the Blues and we knew that when we lost the derby game over Christmas.
“It’s frustrating because that win catapulted their season, which is something that we wanted.
“Now we just want to play well for each other, the management and the fans, who have stuck with us.”
Dragons: D Evans, W Harries, P Leach, J Dixon, T Prydie, S Jones, J Evans, P Price, H Gustafson, N Buck, I Nimmo, A Jones, L Evans (captain), N Cudd, I Jones.
Replacements: S Parry, O Evans, N Williams, J Tyler, J Groves, W Evans, A Smith, H Amos.
Treviso: B Williams, C Loamanu, G La Grange, L Morisi, L Nitoglia, A Di Bernardo, F Semenzato, I Fernandez-Rouyet, G Maistri, J Roux, M Fuser, C Van Zyl (captain), D Budd, V Bernabò, R Barbieri.
Replacements: Fsbaraglini, M Muccignat, P Di Santo, E Ceccato, F Giusti, G Toniolatti, J Ambrosini, A Pratichetti Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)