NEWPORT Gwent Dragons believe they have signed a top quality scavenger after confirming the arrival of Nic Cudd.
The 23-year-old openside flanker, who represented Wales at every age-grade level, has penned a one-year deal after heading east from Llanelli.
The Dragons made their move once it became clear of the severity of the knee injury suffered by Darren Waters in pre-season.
He will be out until at least February after rupturing ligaments and his absence meant that Jevon Groves, a blindside flanker by trade, filled in at openside against Zebre and Leinster.
Captain Lewis Evans returns from a calf problem to don the number 7 jersey against Cardiff Blues tomorrow but now he has another rival.
Cudd, who is a ‘classic’ openside rather than the current destructive trend, found his path blocked at the Scarlets by Josh Turnbull, Jon Edwards, Aaron Shingler, Richie Pugh and latest young gun Dan Thomas.
But the Dragons new boy comes with a ringing endorsement from Llanelli boss Anthony Buchanon – a shrewd judge of talent – and his new bosses have tipped him to make an impact at Rodney Parade.
“Nic is an out-and-out openside and we feel he has all the qualities to make an excellent seven,” said director of rugby Robert Beale. “He is good over the ball, an excellent tackler and a tough competitor.
“Darren Waters was of that mould and we are looking for that sort of player to compete with and push Lewis Evans.
“Nic was very highly thought of by the Scarlets but found it hard to get an opportunity. He’s got one now and it’s up to him to grasp it.”
The Dragons have also looked west to sign prop Owen Evans, son of former Wales front row forward Ricky, who has signed a two-year deal.
Evans is a former Wales Under-20s loosehead who has spent the last five seasons with Llandovery and was involved with the Scarlets in pre-season.
“We needed ten front row forwards for our European squad and needed to decide whether to go for a prop or hooker,” said Beale.
“Owen is young, has a decent pedigree and now has the chance to stake a claim for a place in our matchday squad.
“You are very lucky if you manage to go through the season using three or four props, so it’s some comfort for me to know that we now have an established front row squad.”
The Dragons are continuing their search for an overseas star to bolster the back five of their pack.
The region hope to have another new arrival in place before they lose Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate to Wales duty in November.