Hugh Gustafson delighted to be in the thick of it for the Dragons
AFTER being a fringe figure in the early part of the season, Newport Gwent Dragons hooker Hugh Gustafson loved being in the middle of a Rodney Parade thriller.
Patience has been a virtue for the 26-year-old in the early stages of the campaign after the region plumped for summer signing Rhys Thomas as their number 2.
The former Wales front row forward was to the fore in the wins against Ulster and the narrow loss in Edinburgh, so much so that Gustafson was not called from the bench in either of the RaboDirect Pro12 clashes.
That all changed when a foot injury forced Thomas from the field in the opening exchanges of the derby with the Scarlets.
Gustafson only had a cameo against Bath in pre-season under his belt but played 72 minutes against his former region.
And he was literally at the heart of the drama when, with the 80 minutes gone, the Scarlets were on the Dragons' line and attempting the scrum their way to a draw.
Referee Nigel Owens oversaw six contests before the ball squirted out and the hosts escaped – a feather in the cap for the much-maligned Dragons set piece.
"Andrew Coombs is a great captain and said nothing is going to come through us, no matter what," said Gustafson
"We had one bad scrum but Owen Evans and Dan Way worked hard, just as Phil Price and Francisco Chaparro did before them.
"We showed a bit of belief that we can scrum, a couple of seasons ago we may have crumbled and gone backwards.
"There's a belief, that's down to Andrew and the coaches and we will go to Munster on Saturday believing that we can get something."
Gustafson shared the hooking duties with Sam Parry last season but understands the decision to plump for the experience of Thomas.
"I can't complain because TRT has been outstanding," said Gustafson, who is in his second full season as a hooker after converting from prop.
"He had a fantastic work rate in the win against Ulster and then showed his composure against Edinburgh.
"It has been great to learn off him, just like it was with Steve Jones last year, and I know that I am not the finished article by any means."
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