Versatile Coombs happy in back row... or second
ANDREW Coombs is challenging the adage that men can’t multi-task – the forward is heaping the pressure on his rivals at lock and in the back row.
The 27-year-old has been one of the most prominent performers in Newport Gwent Dragons’ pre-season.
Coombs earned a professional deal after starring as Newport’s captain at number eight and once in the regional ranks he settled as a blindside.
But this season the Dragons have opted to run with just three specialist locks – Ian Nimmo, Rob Sidoli and Adam Jones – with Coombs and fellow back row forward Jevon Groves covering.
Any fears about that decision have been allayed, albeit in friendlies, by the pre-season second-row combo of Coombs and Nimmo.
The former Black and Ambers skipper still sees himself as a back row but after making just ten appearances last season because of a pectoral injury he is just desperate to make the matchday 23.
Coombs said: “Dan Lydiate is world class and his performance against London Irish last week was immense – I lost count of the number of tackles that he made.
“But I hope to get myself into the starting side somewhere and the versatility of playing second row can only help with that aim.
“It’s a challenge and my ears are hurting a bit but I feel like I am learning every week.
“I called the lineouts against Irish and it went well; I am trying to build on my performances every game.
“I am lucky to have a great mentor in Sids, who is a quality player and a proven international.
“He is teaching me things about the position and I am thriving on the challenge.
“And it’s been great to play alongside Ian because he keeps talking throughout and helps me along – he’s a great guy to have next to you when under pressure.
“I think that everyone in the squad knows that they are going to play a big part at some stage this season.”
The Dragons are working towards next Friday’s RaboDirect Pro12 opener against new Italian franchise Zebre at Rodney Parade.
They do so with a spring in their step after an encouraging win and performance against London Irish.
“We had been under a bit of pressure after losing to the Gwent Select XV and a poor first half in Biarritz (who scored 28 of their points in the 40-3 win before the break),” said Coombs.
“There were glimpses of what we can do in the second half in France and then we took that into the game against London Irish.
“We knew that we needed to put in a good performance and I think we did that.
“But now the hard work starts so that we are ready to go against Zebre.”