Dragons to ring the changes
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons will ring the changes for Saturday’s RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with European champions Leinster in Dublin.
The region got their campaign off to a flying start with a bonus-point victory against Zebre at Rodney Parade.
However, they are going to resist the temptation to stick with a winning side for the game at the Royal Dublin Society.
That is because they intend to keep their powder dry for the derby clash with Cardiff Blues in Newport a week after their fixture in Dublin.
It means that Six Nations player of the tournament Dan Lydiate is poised to make way for Hywel Stoddart to make his first regional start while it will be all change in the front row, with last week’s skipper Steve Jones replaced by young tyro Sam Parry at hooker.
The Dragons will confirm their extended squad this afternoon but yesterday the three Gwent Premiership clubs – Bedwas, Cross Keys and Newport – were informed that no senior players will be sent out for game time this weekend.
"We have got to manage our players carefully and any changes will not be down to performance," said head coach Darren Edwards.
"It is important to try and make sure each member of our squad is kept as fit as possible and that everybody contributes to a long season.
"As coaches we have to plan in cycles of games and that can give us a huge headaches "It’s not easy changing a winning side, and in some ways it would be nice to stick with what we are comfortable with, but we are doing it through necessity.
"We also have to trust ALL of our players – if they are in our squad then they’re here to play for the Dragons, not be back-ups."
Their policy is supported by the region’s recent record in the Irish capital – they have never won there and have never lost by fewer than eight points to earn a bonus.
They will also face a Leinster squad that have been read the riot act by their coaches after a 45-20 opening day hammering at the hands of the Scarlets.
"There’s no hiding away from the fact that we weren’t tough enough," said their annoyed forwards coach Jonno Gibbes.
The Irish province are still without most of their Irish internationals but are boosted by the return of skipper Leo Cullen.