8:02am Thursday 22nd August 2013
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons captain Andrew Coombs says the phoney war is over – the battle for starting spots is up and running.
The region play their only pre-season friendly against Bath at Rodney Parade tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.15pm).
The squad, including lock Coombs, have not yet been told the squad for the encounter against the Aviva Premiership side.
And the skipper says training has gone up a notch as everyone prepares to try an impress new director of rugby Lyn Jones ahead of the RaboDirect Pro12 opener against Ulster on September 6.
“Pre-season is always a tough slog and everyone trains so hard for that first game,” said Coombs, who joined up with his teammates late because of his exertions while touring Japan with Wales.
“It’s finally arrived and boys are excited by the chance to impress the new coaches because I don’t think anybody is confident of being involved against Ulster.
“Last season has been written off – all of us have a fresh start, we all have to battle for selection and training has felt different this week.
“There is real excitement about hearing the team today and finding out whether they will get the opportunity to impress.
“Some of the boys have been back for 12 weeks, that’s a long old time without playing and there is nothing like a game.
“Things are stepping up and all the guys want to pull on that shirt, it’s good for everyone to feel those pre-match nerves again.”
Bath have recruited strongly over the summer to bring in bright English talent in Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and George Ford as well as former Wales fly-half/centre Gavin Henson.
They beat the Dragons 36-15 at the Rec in the LV= Cup last year and crushed west country rivals Bristol 69-5 last weekend.
“Bath will be strong whatever team they pick,” said Coombs. “It’s a massive challenge and we want to start on a high and build momentum.
“But it’s not just about the result, we’ve all been working hard in training and Lyn and his coaches will be keen to see those efforts transfer onto the pitch.
“Our fans have been waiting to see some action and I hope that we come out and play as we have been training, because there has been a massive improvement from when I got back to now.”
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