CROSS Keys expect new signings Adam Powell and Ollie Hodge to add to the already fierce battle for starting spots in the boilerhouse.
The Pandy Park outfit have snapped up number eight Powell from Neath and lock Hodge, who will join forces with younger brother Dan in the second row, from Dings Crusaders.
They are a pair of seasoned campaigners with 26-year-old Powell having headed for the Gnoll from Cardiff after coming through the Blues academy while 32-year-old Hodge counts Bath, Cornish Pirates, Bristol, Exeter and Coventry among his former clubs.
They will effectively replace lock Lewis Rawlins, who has signed a development contract with the Scarlets, and back row forward Marc Popham, who has left the club after getting a job in London.
The new duo will be vying for starting spots in two of the Swalec Cup holders’ areas of strength – Dan Hodge and Tom Lampard formed a formidable second row partnership last term while the back row often provided a selection headache.
“In Adam and Ollie we have recruited out and out experience and it’s a big boost for the club to get them both on board,” said head coach Greg Woods.
“Ollie has really impressed in the sessions that we have held so far and I look forward to seeing him and his brother battle it out in training!
“He’s a bit more athletic than Danny and has blown us away with his fitness.
“I think his arrival will bring the best out of both of the Hodges – they aren’t just trying to be the club’s best second row, they are looking to be the best second row in the family.
“I’m also delighted to have signed Adam because we needed a specialist number eight rather than someone with the ability to slot in across the back row.
“His ball carrying is outstanding and he comes here with real Premiership pedigree.
“We didn’t need to add too much this season but we have definitely added quality.”
Earlier this summer Keys signed fly-half Dorian Jones from Ebbw Vale, scrum-half Ryan James from Newport, prop Anthony Lott from Bargoed, utility back Elliot Jones from Glamorgan Wanderers and lock Sean Higgins and back row Leon Burgess, both from Abercarn.
Meanwhile, Keys will be going on a pre-season tour to Berlin from August 9 to 14.