NEWPORT boss Ty Morris is relishing the chance to call the shots in the Premiership opener against Ebbw Vale at Eugene Cross Park after being promoted to head coach.

The Black and Ambers turned to the former back row forward when Craig Warlow decided to step down at the end of last season.

It was a simple decision for Newport to ask Morris after his four-year apprenticeship as Warlow's right-hand man following his first job with Risca, and they didn't have to wait long for his response.

"I've wanted to move up and progress since I first started coaching so I couldn't turn down an opportunity like this when Craig stepped aside," said the 39-year-old.

"It's something that I had to grasp and I am really enjoying it. I'm not feeling the pressure yet but I am sure that will start building as the season gets going and the results come in!

"I've brought in Dai Lynch as backs coach, who has got a huge amount of experience from running Bargoed for the last 10 years and having success with Brynmawr.

"I did my level four WRU coaching with Dai and we instantly got on quite well, so I wanted another person that I can trust right next to me."

There will be a change of tone at Rodney Parade – "I am very different person to Craig, who is very laidback!" – but the sights will still be set high.

One of the 12 Premiership teams will drop to the Championship but Newport, who finished seventh last season, want a top-half finish and qualification for the 2021 competition with Scottish Super 6 sides.

"We've brought in plenty of new players and have definitely strengthened behind, because last season we didn't have enough competition to push the starting back line," said Morris.

"We've got 37 players on board and it has been really competitive in pre-season.

"That will help us push towards our targets and we are aiming for that top six and the cross-border tournament after being disappointed to not quite make it last season."

The Black and Ambers enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season with victories at Pontypridd and Dings Crusaders either side of a draw at Cinderford.

After eight league derbies against Gwent rivals last year, they have just two this time with this week's trip to Ebbw followed by the return fixture on December 28.

Last season Newport won 27-20 at Eugene Cross Park thanks to tries by centre Chay Smith, wing Elliot Frewen and fly-half Matt O'Brien, who also kicked 12 points.

Ebbw got their revenge at Rodney Parade when Rhys Jones, now of Merthyr, knocked over a drop goal with the final kick to sneak a 31-29 success.

Dragons will be shared between Newport and Ebbw this season after the relegation of Bedwas, Cross Keys and Bargoed, although the Celtic Cup will have an impact on availability until the autumn.

The Black and Ambers will have the services of senior squad members centres Connor Edwards and Adam Warren, fly-half Arwel Robson, hooker Rhys Lawrence and back row forwads uw Taylor and Taine Basham if Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan deems they are in need of game time.

Newport's Dragons allocation

David Richards, James McCarthy, Deon Smith, Tom Hoppe, Adam Warren, Connor Edwards, Arwel Robson, Dafydd Buckland, Josh Reynolds, Rhys Lawrence, Ellis Shipp, Ben Carter, Huw Taylor, Taine Basham, Lennon Greggains, Garin Price.