Dragons must be inspired by Thomond Park
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have been told to be inspired by the historic surroundings of Thomond Park when they make a rare trip to Limerick.
The Dragons usually play at Cork’s Musgrave Park when they head over the Irish Sea to take on Munster.
They have played just one league game in Limerick – their only win on the turf of Ireland’s southern province – in March, 2004.
And it is nearly seven years since their last visit – a Heineken Cup encounter in the season that Munster went on to be crowned Euro-pean champions for the first time.
It is a rare treat for the Dragons be going to Thom-ond rather than Musgrave Park, a ground with its charm but unable to compete with the 26,500 capacity ground in Limerick.
It is where Munster beat the All Blacks in 1978 and is synonymous with their big European encounters when ‘The Fields of Athenry’ booms out one minute before the ground falls silent for an opposition shot at goal the next.
Just one member of the squad, hooker and captain Steve Jones, has represented the Dragons in Limerick and head coach Darren Edwards hopes his charges are stirred up by the occasion.
“It’s the first time at this stadium for some time and that is great for the players,” said Edwards.
“I expect to see that energy and excitement at being at Thomond Park transfer to the pitch. I want us to go at Munster, something that we didn’t do until it was too late against Leinster in Dublin two weeks ago.
“Last year in Cork we were very disappointed not to get a losing bonus point and the games with Munster at Rodney Parade have been tight battles in recent years, so we have to take confidence from that.”
Number eight Tom Brown, who makes his first start of the campaign in place of Wales star Toby Faletau, is relishing the prospect of playing on Munster’s “proper pitch”.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better game to come back for,” he said.
“We are all excited at playing at a massive and noisy stadium.”