Kingsley Jones: Dragons must grasp chance to impress against Bath
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have been challenged to put down a marker for the coming campaign in Friday's pre-season friendly against Bath.
The clash with the Aviva Premiership side at Rodney Parade is the Dragons' only warm-up before they take on Ulster in the RaboDirect Pro12 opener against Ulster on September 6.
The coaching staff have not yet decided their starting XV and plan to use an extended matchday squad against Bath, who will return to Newport in the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2014.
Toby Faletau won't be involved after joining pre-season late because of his Lions exertions while a call is yet to be made on new captain Andrew Coombs, who toured Japan with Wales in the summer.
But forwards coach Kingsley Jones has told those that do get the nod to grasp their opportunity to impress.
"This is a great opportunity to have a hit out against a quality Bath side," said the former Wales flanker, who was brought in by new director of rugby Lyn Jones in June.
"This is will be a different world to training. It all starts here and the players have the opportunity to put their hands up for selection.
"As a new coaching team we have no preconceived ideas about anyone – it's a fresh sheet of paper and they have the chance to impress. It's up to them."
Bath were in destructive form against west country rivals Bristol last weekend, running 11 tries past the big-spending Championship side in a 69-5 romp at the Rec.
Jones is relishing the chance to see how his new charges react under pressure ahead of the proper rugby starts.
"It's only a pre-season game and we are looking at more than just the result but it's an important step towards that Ulster game," he said.
"We've worked the squad hard over the summer and because this is our only friendly it's the only chance to see if things come through from training.
"Bath are a very good side and have invested well, so it's a great test for us. We want to see individuals concentrating on their own game and executing what we have been working on.
"It's been a positive summer and our supporters seem to have been encouraged by what has gone on so after all the work it will be nice to have a run out in front of them at Rodney Parade."
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