STALWART Matthew Screech has learnt from past captains at the Dragons as he tries to help the next generation prosper.

The Rodney Parade club suffered a 40-7 hammering at Glasgow last weekend, the latest disappointment in another very tough season.

However, it wasn't all doom and gloom at Scotstoun.

The Dragons did at least give more opportunities to young talent with wing Oli Andrew and hooker Sam Scarfe, albeit at flanker, making debuts.

Dai Flanagan's men finished with Will Reed, Joe Westwood, Aneurin Owen, Che Hope, Luke Yendle, Barny Langton-Cryer and Brodie Coghlan also on the field Ideally so many wouldn’t be on the field together but the Dragons are stretched by injury and Wales call-ups.

That means 31-year-old Screech is a player that the youngsters are looking to, both on the field and in training.

South Wales Argus: CHANCE: Barny Langton-Cryer on the charge for the Dragons at GlasgowCHANCE: Barny Langton-Cryer on the charge for the Dragons at Glasgow (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“It’s something that has just happened,” he said about the leadership role. “All of a sudden you look around and you are one of the older guys that needs to feed back to the youngsters. They are promising and it’s exciting to help them.”

Screech was able to learn from Wales lock/flanker Andrew Coombs, who was his first Dragons captain in 2013, while another hard-nosed ex-international made an impact despite being in a different position.

Former Cardiff front rower Rhys Thomas was skipper at Rodney Parade in 2015/16 before going on to be part of the coaching set-up.

“TRT was a hooker but I looked up to him and the way that he carried himself and spoke,” said Screech.

“He also led by example and was a great captain. He would be doing all the stuff that you'd never really praise, and I really admired that.”

Screech has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Rodney Parade until at least 2026 and the dependable second rower has a milestone in his sights.

He made his 183rd outing for the club in Glasgow and hopes to hit his double century next season.

South Wales Argus: Dragons stalwart Matthew ScreechDragons stalwart Matthew Screech

Screech is some way off Lewis Evans’ 236 – “I'd have to get another contract to try and beat Shanksey!” – but the lock remains an important figure despite the Dragons’ struggles.

His exploits in 2020/21 earned a Wales cap against Argentina and, after moving to Cardiff and being a fringe figure, he is getting back to that form.

“I had a bit of a difficult time at Cardiff when I was in and out of the squad,” he said. “I feel that I play my best rugby when consistently in the squad.

“I’ve had some pretty good games this season but I know that I have to be consistent – second rows are there to graft, hit rucks, carry and tackle, and I’d like to think I can slightly do all of that!

“I was a no-brainer to sign again for the Dragons I have really enjoyed the environment. I am excited for the next few years.”

The Dragons are not in action this weekend with Ulster their next assignment on Saturday, March 2 (kick-off 7.35pm).

The men from Belfast are having a very poor season by their standards and are smarting from a last-gasp loss to the Ospreys.

They failed to qualify for the Champions Cup knockout stages and will travel to Montpellier in the Challenge Cup while they are eighth in the URC, albeit a win away from fourth.