PAUL Turner will be unveiled as the new Newport Gwent Dragons coach next week as Welsh rugby's worst kept secret is finally made official.

Turner returns to the Rodney Parade ground where he enjoyed part of an exceptional playing career in which he estimates he played close on 700 games and scored around 5,000 points.

The former outside half enjoyed a brilliant playing career with Newbridge and Newport, captaining both teams and holding both clubs' points scoring records, as well as winning three Welsh caps in 1989.

Turner made 293 appearances for home team Newbridge between 1979 and 1990 and scored 2,293 points, playing in a remarkable 43 games in 1983-4 when scoring a club record 405 points.

He went one better in season 1986-7 for Newport when he made 44 appearances, including an end of season tour, and scored 472 points, another record.

Since leaving Newport he has held coaching positions with five major English clubs starting with Sale, where he was player-coach, then holding a similar position with Bedford, helping them earn promotion to the Premiership, and moving on to Saracens, where he worked with South Africa's World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar, Gloucester alongside French ace Philippe Saint Andre, and finally Harlequins.

That was probably the least enjoyable of his coaching positions, not just because Harlequins have just been relegated but because he came under the controlling influence of Mark Evans, both head coach and chief executive.

He has been approached more than once about taking up the coaching reins at Newport, but has resisted a move until now.

He has, in fact, been in line for the Dragons post for some time, talks having been opened around six weeks ago.

But nothing could happen for some time because the Dragons still had Chris Anderson in charge, though told that the option of a second year of his contract would not be taken up while Turner was still with Harlequins.

But he finally obtained his release on Sunday after all club issues were resolved and he spent yesterday meeting players at Rodney Parade as well as holding meetings with team management and directors.

Turner is keen to return to his native county and stresses the local connection by linking up with fellow Gwent coaches Leigh Jones and Dai Rees plus team manager Jim McCreedy.