NEWBRIDGE have expressed their delight at snapping up flanker Craig Hill for the forthcoming Championship season, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 30-year-old openside has penned a deal with the Welfare Ground outfit after being released by Newport.
Hill, a member of Wales’ Sevens World Cup-winning squad in 2009, has taken up the offer after being approached by his friend and ’Bridge backs coach Jon Hawker.
And Newbridge, who finished third in Division One East, are delighted to have attracted a player that they believe is of Premiership standard.
“Craig is a superb signing,” said forwards coach Andrew Gibbs. “He is a quality player with real pedigree that will really add to the strength in depth in our back row.
“He fits into our ethos of playing a high tempo game with a big emphasis on fitness.
“That showed last season when we finished a lot of big games strongly, particularly the wins against Bargoed and Ebbw Vale and the Swalec Cup defeat to Pontypridd when we had them worried.
“Between Craig and Andrew Coupe we have two excellent sevens and it brings all sorts of thoughts into our minds about our mix in the back row.
“We’ve still got my brother Dean and have also signed another six in Alex Williams, so there is real competition and different options for us as coaches.”
Going the opposite way to Hill is last season’s Newbridge captain Ross Coombs, who is following in the footsteps of his brother and current Dragons forward Andrew in joining the Black and Ambers.
The back row, who has previously played for Newport on permit, won both the players’ and supporters’ player of the year awards for his efforts with ’Bridge last term.
“Ross has been terrific for us and we wish him all the best at Newport,” said Gibbs.
“He has been a great leader and captain and, to be honest, it’s hard to believe that no Premiership club has signed him up before now.”
’Bridge have named their two hookers – Rhys Price and Darren Hughes – as joint captains for next season.
Pre-season friendlies: Saturday, August 11 – Pill Harriers v Newbridge; Saturday, August 18 – Rumney v Newbridge; Saturday, August 25 – Newbridge v Old Luctonians (kick-offs 2.30pm).