Dragons christen new training base

South Wales Argus: Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence was officially opened by specially invited guests.  Pictured is the 3G Rugby Pitch at the sports complex. (6430247) Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence was officially opened by specially invited guests. Pictured is the 3G Rugby Pitch at the sports complex. (6430247)

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons were back for pre-season training yesterday just 23 days after ending their campaign on a high against Treviso at Rodney Parade, writes Chris Kirwan.

International players, Bristol and London Welsh are yet to finish 2013/14 but yesterday a small group of Dragons began preparations for next season by christening the region's new training base in Ystrad Mynach.

Those that featured in the Wales trial are excused while Taulupe Faletau and the 11-strong Junior World Championship contingent will not return until July.

Director of rugby Lyn Jones, who is currently in New Zealand watching the Under-20s tournament, told the Argus last month that his charges had a busy summer ahead.

"These boys need to bulk up," he said. "We need to be far more powerful, stronger, heavier and more dynamic than we are at the moment if we are going to challenge any side in the league."

The relocation will certain help the fuel bills of scrum-half Jonathan Evans, who hails from Cefn Hengoed up the road from the Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence.

The 21-year-old has a summer of hard graft ahead as he attempts to put the pressure on Richie Rees, who bossed the number 9 jersey last season.

"Last season was frustrating," said Evans, who was Argus Dragon of the Year in 2012/13 but made just five starts last term.

"I was hit by injuries and it was annoying to not get much rugby after being a regular the season before.

"I know that I have a big challenge ahead of me, I have to play more and I have to work hard in pre-season so that I have the chance to hit the ground running.

"It will be great to have everything on one site and it can only improve us as a team and improve me as an individual.

"It all looks really good and the facilities in the gym are unbelievable – I nipped down before the official opening and they were struggling to fit all the equipment in there was that much of it!

"It's just what we need. The gym at Rodney Parade was good but this is a step up and I am looking forward to training here."

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