CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Dragons may have struck gold with Nimmo

JASON Forster, Adam Black, Joe Bearman, Aled Brew; the Dragons faithful love their cult heroes.

Those favourite figures help turn the volume up a notch and turn the Hazell Terrace into a pretty unforgiving place for opponents.

But last season the fans had very little to be vocal about, there were the derby wins against the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues and European success against Perpignan but that was about it.

Supporters want value for money after going through the turnstiles.

The easiest way to deliver that is through victory but spirit in defeat can soften the blow; if a side is going to leave with the spoils then at least ensure they do so with a bloody nose and ice packs on their aching limbs.

The quartet above became cult heroes because they were top quality players AND were real characters.

In truth the Dragons were lacking in that department last term because Toby Faletau was in the red of Wales as much as he was in regional colours while Brew didn’t really hit the heights.

But in new signing Ian Nimmo, a hulking Sébastien Chabal-like figure with long locks and bushy beard, the Dragons will have somebody who certainly fits the bill in terms of appearance.

The lock talks in today’s paper about his hopes for his time with the region and he was a great interviewee. He was engaging, passionate about his rugby and steered clear of cliches.

He seems a good character and his coaches brought in to add to the changing room environment as well as produce on the pitch. Of course, that’s the key to whether Nimmo is a success at Rodney Parade – it’s how many rucks he hits rather than what he looks like that will endear him to the punters.

But he heads over the Severn Bridge having been a real hit at Cornish Pirates.

When the Dragons signed him I got in touch with Dick Straughan, a Cornwall-based journalist I have shared press benches with courtesy of Newport and Cross Keys’ British and Irish Cup jousts with the Pirates.

He replied that he had named Nimmo as his player of the season and that he was “solid in the set piece, a good lineout man and with a huge work-rate he became a massive favourite with the fans”.

Nimmo may not head to Newport with an asterisk denoting his international status next to his name but hopefully he will add some much-needed steel to the Dragons pack. Not that his arrival has pleased everyone, they see that World Cup star Luke Charteris has left and that his place in the squad has been taken by a lock from the English Championship (playing for a side beaten by Cross Keys). These days it seems everyone is quick to dismiss new signings before they’ve even crossed the whitewash.

When Gavin Thomas retired this week he deservedly received a lot of praise for his sterling service over the past three seasons.

His performances in the number 7 jersey weren’t too bad for somebody labelled in the comments section on the Argus website as “over the hill” and “worn out” when signed by former head Paul Turner. The proof will be in the pudding when it comes to Nimmo and perhaps this piece will look daft this time next year.

But if he captures the hearts of the supporters at Rodney Parade like he did at the Mennaye Field then it will prove to have been a shrewd signing.

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