New Zealand hooker Tom Willis believes he can be one of the missing pieces in the Dragons Magners League jigsaw when he joins the Rodney Parade outfit after the Super 14 season in July.

The 29-year-old former All Black won all five of his Test caps in 2002 but a run of bad luck with injuries dropped him down the pecking order of first- choice hookers behind the likes of Keven Mealamu and Anton Oliver.

To his credit Willis has bounced back to become one of New Zealand domestic rugby's most consistent performers, and after he appeared in more than 60 Super matches Dragons coach Paul Turner swooped for the former Waikato star.

Willis, who signed a two-year deal last month, is determined to play his part in Turner's long-term vision to turn the Dragons into the most formidable force in the Magners League.

"I was attracted to join the Dragons because of the opportunity and the challenge of helping the team to move forward," Willis told the Argus in an exclusive interview.

"I also think that rugby is on a bit of a high in Wales at the moment and the future is bright, which makes it a good scene to be a part of. Other facts included a chance to live abroad, experience a new culture and see other parts of both the UK and Europe as a player.

"The picture that Paul Turner presented to me was that he has a young and talented side with an abundance of ability, but they need a wider branch of experienced players to support the senior players in helping to win close games.

"Paul also wants me to provide leadership both on and off the field and I feel I fit that bill.

"Paul strikes me as a very enthusiastic, progressive and ambitious coach who really wants to move the club forward so I am looking forward to working with him."

Willis was top of the list of New Zealand players targeted by the Dragons this year and it is understood that Otago Highlanders No 8 Grant Webb is expected to follow him to Rodney Parade.

The Dragons have also made inquiries about Highlanders' rookie first-five Daniel Bowden and are on the lookout for a top-class lock.

Dragons officials recently completed a talent-spotting trip to New Zealand, including meeting several players and their agents.

Willis is looking forward to joining forces with his compatriots and former Highlanders team-mates, including James Arlidge, in Dragons colours next season.

"I played with James and Grant for the Highlanders, and coincidentally Grant and I shared a flat together while at university in Dunedin," Willis said.

"I would describe myself as a set-piece focused hooker who looks to complement that with a high work-rate on attack and defence and provide leadership on the field.

"As a rugby player I always want to improve and I want to make a significant difference for the Dragons.

"I'm going to Newport to help the team win games that might have slipped in the past and to contribute to a dynamic and exciting brand of rugby."

Willis has already started the countdown to his arrival at Rodney Parade.

"I hope to arrive in early July in time for pre-season training," he said.

"I am currently sorting out my visa, so as soon as that's sorted it'll be all go!"