COME out and support us -- that was the plea to rugby fans from new Gwent Dragons captain An-dy Marinos and coa-ch Mike Ruddock as the Dragons were launched in Newport today.

They urged supporters, especially those from Newport, to forget about all the politics and back the squad in the new season.

Marinos will lead the side in his first appointment on a regular basis since his arrival in Wales four years ago though he led the Stormers in South Africa.

"It's fantastic, a huge honour," he said. "I had hoped to be given the job, but I never expected it, I'm delighted.

"It's going to take time to build the side, just as it did with Newport. It's been a painful experience for players, supporters, owners, everyone, but there is nothing we can do about the politics, they will always be with us.

"The players are caught up in the middle of all this. As regional captain I would make a vocal plea to the fans to come out and support us. We are the same players, we haven't changed, we've just been put in a different structure so I hope they will all get behind us."

Ruddock appealed to disaffected Newport supporters in particular.

"We understand the concerns of the supporters," he said. "But we have been employed to do a job and we hope the people get behind it and accept the concept."

The last obstacle after a troubled summer off the field which saw Newport owner Tony Brown quit was cleared on Friday with agreement over the amount of rent Gwent Dragons will play Newport to play at their Rodney Parade headquarters.

A minimum of 11 Celtic League and three Heineken Cup games is guaranteed against top European teams of the calibre of Leicester, Stade Francais, Ulster, Munster and Leinster.

"The fixture list is superb and it's very exciting," said Ruddock. "I hope when the Newport fans look at the fixture list and see what it's like they will take it on board."