CHRIS KIRWAN: Andy Powell can follow Colin Charvis by having the last laugh at Dragons
10:02am Thursday 12th June 2014 in Sport
IT didn't take long for the jokes to start once Newport Gwent Dragons announced that they had signed Andy Powell.
The Celtic Manor posted a picture on Twitter of a golf buggy with a steering lock while some wags pondered whether he had bought his boots back of eBay.
Powell is a fantastic character but behind the blond locks and occasional daft behaviour is a serious player who has won 23 caps and played for the Lions in South Africa, a tour that confirmed him as a bit of a loon courtesy of the behind-the-scenes DVD.
But the Tweets of congratulations on his new move from former Blues, Sale and Wales teammates shows that he is highly-regarded by his peers – and that doesn't just come from being a court jester.
Past history shows that the Dragons should not be put off by warnings about signing a back row forward who comes with a bit of baggage and whose best days are said to be behind them.
Eyebrows were raised when they snapped up then 33-year-old Colin Charvis following his departure from Newcastle in 2006 but the former Wales captain went on to become a Dragons favourite, making 51 appearances over three seasons, earning a Test recall and leaving a lasting impression on the likes of Dan Lydiate, Lewis Evans and Taulupe Faletau both as a player and coach.
If Powell, who will also be 33 when he makes his debut, can make half the impact that the ex-openside did then it will prove to have been a shrewd signing by Lyn and Kingsley Jones.
The management team held many meetings with the number eight and the 32-year-old convinced them that he still has the desire to play top-flight rugby union after nearly a year on the sidelines because of the neck injury he suffered playing league with Wigan Warriors.
If they can bring the best out of him then Powell will make things happen for the Dragons.
He won't take Faletau's place but the World Cup is approaching and the 23-year-old has been playing almost non-stop for a year because of the Lions' tour to Australia.
His new teammate can share the burden and also provide the region with plenty of oomph with ball in hand.
The Dragons were a bit lightweight in 2013/14 and failed to smash over the gain line with regularity, prompting Lyn Jones to declare, "These boys need to bulk up; 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."
His summer recruitment should also ensure a bit more go-forward with Powell following fellow big hitters Ian Gough, Ligtoring Landman and Aled Brew in penning deals with the region.
The Joneses have brought in the seasoned campaigners because they know what they are going to get from them.
And in Powell's case that is power with ball in hand rather than tomfoolery.
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