8:00am Thursday 16th August 2012
By Chris Kirwan
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have confirmed the appointment of former Wales prop Iestyn Thomas as a scrum coach.
The ex-Scarlets loosehead will work under Rob Appleyard, who has taken over responsibility for the forwards along with his role as defence coach.
The Argus revealed in May that the region were looking to bring in Thomas, who won 33 Wales caps, following the departure of Danny Wilson to the Scarlets.
The deal was held up while the Dragons waited for the Welsh Rugby Union to ratify the move but, after working as a consultant while awaiting the green light, he has now penned a one-year deal.
“Iestyn has a wealth of experience in the scrum and we are really looking forward to him working towards making our set piece not just competitive but dominant,” said director of rugby Robert Beale. “He has just finished playing so has a lot of credibility with our players, many of whom have gone up against him.
“Iestyn is a WRU level three coach and while you could say he hasn’t got much experience, you only need to look at what he has achieved as a player to know that he will command respect.
“He would be the first to admit that he needs to polish up on parts of his delivery but he is working in a specific area that he knows a vast amount about.
“He will be speaking as a prop to our props, hookers, second rows and back row forwards about what he expects and I am confident he will be a success.”
The Dragons were interested in signing Thomas, who hails from Pontypool and played for Ebbw Vale, before he was forced to retire last season because of a neck injury.
The 35-year-old watched from the sidelines the losses against a Gwent Select XV and Biarritz.
“Iestyn has watched footage from last season and I think he will have a slightly different approach to Danny in how he wants the scrum to operate,” said Beale.
“There will be a bit of a bedding in, but I am confident that in time we will have a very good scrum.
“Steve Jones apart, we have a very young front row but there is a huge amount of potential there.”
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