Robert Sidoli aiming to keep Dragons apprentice on the sidelines
9:02am Friday 4th October 2013 in Sport
MATTHEW Screech was getting to grips with primary school when 19-year-old Robert Sidoli was making a breakthrough with Merthyr. Now the pair are battling for starts at Newport Gwent Dragons.
The 20-year-old lock has made a superb start to life at Rodney Parade after earning a deal following his release by Cardiff Blues.
Screech has started all four RaboDirect Pro12 fixtures and has impressed with his energy and aggression around the park.
Sidoli, 34, has been limited to a pair of appearances off the bench but has been handed a start for this evening's home clash with Zebre.
The former Wales forward doesn't want to let go of a starting jersey but can't help but be impressed by his apprentice, who is among the replacements tomorrow.
"Matthew is young, enthusiastic and is one to look out for in the future," said Sidoli. "He had a good pre-season and then started the first four games, he has been excellent.
"It's hard to watch someone else in that jersey but good on him, that's the competitive nature (of professional rugby) and all of the second rows work well together off the field."
Sidoli has been brought back in to add some experience to a front five that struggled against Munster last weekend.
The lineout was a problem throughout the 23-9 loss in Cork while there were also some shaky moments in the scrum.
Sidoli, who won 42 Wales caps, was involved in the coaching and analysis of the defensive lineout last season. This year he is happy to just concentrate on carrying out the actions of others.
"Last year we were thin on the ground with backroom staff but with Kingsley (Jones, forwards coach) and Jabba (Steve Jones, set piece coach) on board I am just keen to listen and learn," he said.
"They've come in with new ideas and that freshens you up, you have to pay attention and learn new things. Everybody is on edge and keen.
"We addressed the big concerns of defence and the breakdown in pre-season and will bring the set piece up to speed now.
"The attitude is always there but we have to have the application. We need to nail down our roles and it's a big challenge."
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