DORIAN Jones is the next Premiership talent to be given a chance to impress for Newport Gwent Dragons when he goes up against Newcastle in the LV= Cup this evening, writes Chris Kirwan.
Bedwas tighthead Joe Mills, 25, came off the bench for a regional debut in last weekend’s 34-16 loss to Northampton at Rodney Parade.
Jones will hope to do likewise at Kingston Park tonight (kick-off 7.45pm) after being named among the replacements as back-up to former Italy fly-half Kris Burton.
The 21-year-old, who is son of Dragons forwards coach Kingsley, made his regional bow with a 12-minute cameo against Wasps in November, albeit as a makeshift scrum-half because of injuries.
Jones initially impressed while pulling the strings at Ebbw Vale and has gone on to star for Cross Keys in the Premiership as a replacement for Steffan Jones.
Director of rugby Lyn Jones is excited at the prospect of seeing him in action against the Falcons.
“Dorian is a Gwent boy with a huge amount of talent and I want to see him play – if we have talented players in the region then they should to be playing for the Dragons,” he said.
“I want to give players like Dorian the opportunity to show what they can do; if they are good enough then great, if not that’s life.
“Just because you are 22 and haven’t come through the academy system doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. He is a fellow with a high skill set; I just want to learn a bit more about him.
“I enjoyed having Joe in last week, he was quite refreshing. It was a big test for him and he did well.
“There is more to come from him, he is a big strong lad who if the circumstances were right could become a professional.
“Whether those circumstances will ever be right for Joe, I don’t know because he has got a job and it’s difficult.”
One man with a more certain future in the pro game is teenage international Hallam Amos and the Wales wing returns from injury for the Dragons this evening.
The 19-year-old, who made his international debut against Tonga in the autumn, suffered an ankle injury in the Boxing Day win against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade.
He makes his comeback against the Falcons and so does openside Darren Waters, who makes his first regional appearance of the season after rupturing ligaments in his left knee in pre-season.
Newcastle have picked a strong side as they attempt for a morale-boosting win ahead of their battle to avoid the drop from the Aviva Premiership with Italian international Gonzalo Tiesi making his debut in midfield.
Newcastle: A Tait, N Cato, G Tiesi, A Powell, S Sinoti, P Godman, W Fury, R Vickers, M Thompson, O Tomaszczyk, D Barrow, F McKenzie, W Welch (captain), A Saull, M Wilson. Replacements: S Lawson, F Montanella, G Strain, S MacLeod, C York, C Pilgrim, J Helleur
Dragons: D Evans, W Harries, A Hughes, L Robling, H Amos, K Burton, J Evans, N Williams, H Gustafson, F Chaparro, M Screech, R Sidoli (captain), J Groves, D Waters, I Jones. Replacements: R Thomas, A Coundley, D Way, C Hill, N Cudd, W Evans, D Jones, A Smith.