CHIEF executive Stuart Davies has hailed the appetite of supporters to be part of a new era at the Dragons and is confident Rodney Parade will be “bouncing” for the season opener.

The region kick off their Guinness PRO14 campaign against Irish big guns Leinster in Newport tomorrow (kick-off 3.15pm).

It has been a summer of change at Rodney Parade with the Welsh Rugby Union taking control of the Dragons and buying the historic ground from Newport RFC.

The governing body swiftly dropped Newport and Gwent from the name, appointed Bernard Jackman as head coach, committed to a £750,000 revamp of the much-maligned pitch and have spruced up the venue.

Now the Dragons hope to attract a bumper crowd, surpassing the 4,059 that watched the fixture against Leinster on a Friday night in February.

Last season’s biggest attendance was 6,746 for the derby with the Ospreys on New Year’s Day and they have already attracted more than 500 new members than 2016/17.

“We are very encouraged by season ticket sales,” said Davies. “They have exceeded last year so any talk about supporters walking away [because of the takeover and name change] has not transpired.

“We are hopeful that there will be a good walk-up for Leinster and it would be fantastic to put down a marker and make a statement after all of the work to unite and inspire a region.

“It’s slightly unusual for us to have a Saturday afternoon fixture but it’s great that the broadcasters have chosen to be with us at the start of what is a new era.

“It’s always a great atmosphere at Rodney Parade and with over 5,000 it would be bouncing.

“I’ve always championed the matchday experience here and it’s about creating something that more than just 80 minutes of rugby.

“There will be a tag rugby festival before the game and all the usual entertainment in the family zone, so it promises to be a great occasion.”

The off-field changes have stretched the Dragons this summer with changes to the ticketing system, not to mention uncertainty over the format of the Guinness PRO14 format, meaning a late push for season tickets.

However, Davies says the mood is buoyant at Rodney Parade.

“It’s been a busy summer but since the yes vote was made it has been such a positive environment,” said the former Wales forward.

“Bernard has transformed the mood of the squad up in Ystrad Mynach and throughout the region there is excitement about what lies ahead.

“I am really keen for that excitement to migrate into game one and for us to enjoy what will be a big occasion against a top quality Leinster side.

“It’s almost incumbent for me to manage expectations, because Bernard has not had an open chequebook, but this is a wonderful way to set up the season.”

Tickets are available from the Dragons on 01633 674990 or