DRAGONS new boy Joe Maksymiw says he has been shown the way by his Wales international housemate Jonah Holmes as he prepares to make an impact at Rodney Parade.

The 24-year-old lock from Loughborough, who is Welsh-qualified through his maternal grandmother from Bala, has signed for the region from Connacht.

Maksymiw came through the ranks at Leicester before profiting from moving to Ireland in 2018, where he made 25 appearances for the Galway-based province.

In that time he has seen former Tigers teammate and fellow Dragons signing Holmes go from strength to strength, with his club form leading to three Wales caps.

The wing/full-back has headed for Rodney Parade to boost his Test hopes and his rise has given inspiration to his Cardiff housemate.

"Me and Jonah got on well at Tigers but neither of us played that many games when I was there," said Maksymiw. "He has pushed on loads and became a Welsh international in the last two years.

"It's great to see how that can happen for someone by working hard and getting that opportunity to go to things like that."

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At 6ft 8ins, Maksymiw has a frame that will catch Wayne Pivac's eye with strong displays in the Dragons boilerhouse.

That will only come if he manages to displace last season's partnership of Matthew Screech and Joe Davies, who performed strongly in the absence of then injured and now gone internationals Cory Hill and Brandon Nansen.

"I certainly have aspirations to play for Wales but I've got to impress Dean (Ryan, Dragons director of rugby) before anything like that," said Maksymiw.

"All I am focusing on right now is trying to get in the Dragons team, because there are three senior locks in there already.

"There is a lot of competition with Matthew Screech, Joe Davies, Max Williams, so it's about working hard to get in the team and then we will see what happens from there.

"Matthew and Joe both played loads last year and were consistent performers. If they are in that spot then it's my job to get in there.

"I've got to prove myself to get an opportunity and get my head down. Nothing comes easy, if they are in pole position then it's my job to move them and the only way to do that is through hard work."

Maksymiw is gradually meeting more and more of his new teammates as groupings in training increase ahead of the August 23 return to action in the Guinness PRO14.

This week the lock got a timely lift in Ystrad Mynach by working on a part of his game that he hopes will be a point of different.

"I love my lineouts, that's my best feature," he said. "I've been in embedded in it, especially coming through Leicester's academy where there is a huge set piece focus.

"I feel confident to run a lineout and did a lot of that in my second year at Connacht, where my old forwards coach Jim Duffy empowered me and helped me.

"We did our first few lineouts this week – it was good to get up in the air again. It was all skills and fitness based in the first few weeks but it was good to feel the buzz again with a big of lifting.

"The lineout is a strength of mine, and hopefully I can do a bit around the pitch as well."

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Talks with Maksymiw began at the start of the year and the second row took the plunge rather staying put.

"I had two contract offers, one from the Dragons and one from Connacht, and for various reasons I felt that the Dragons would be the best fit for me and got it all sorted and done," he said.

"It's an exciting and ambitious place to be, the Dragons are clearly on the up with Dean. All you need to do it look at the results to see that.

"We are in the Champions Cup for the first time in a while [yet to be rubber-stamped], so hopefully we'll have a good run and do well in the PRO14."

The new boys will now help finish off the 2019/20 campaign with a first taste of derby action with a trip to the Ospreys followed by the home game against the Scarlets.

"It's a great way to kick-off and get some rugby because it's been ages since any of us have played," said Maksymiw, who also has the European Challenge Cup quarter-final at Bristol to target.

"We could be a bit rusty but we are training hard and the strength and conditioning coaches are relatively happy with how we have come back.

"Everyone is in good nick and kept themselves sane during lockdown. It will just be good to get out on the pitch again and get the ball in my hands."