Mark Ring backs Steffan Jones and Jevon Groves to unlock Moseley
THE INCLUSION of Newport Gwent Dragons Steffan Jones and Jevon Groves will provide his old club Cross Keys with a massive boost this weekend, according to Mark Ring.
The Wales great knows the pair well after coaching at Pandy Park for a number of years.
He backs the duo, an outside half and back rower respectively, to help get the Gwent Valleys side off to a flying start in tomorrow’s British and Irish Cup opener.
They entertain struggling Championship outfit Moseley at Pandy Park (kick-off 3pm), the Birmingham side without a win in the league this season after three defeats and a draw.
The Dragons are providing Keys with up to 12 regional and academy players for the British and Irish Cup with the club representing the Gwent region in the competition which has also drawn them in a group with Ealing and holders Leinster A.
Loosehead prop Aaron Coundley, 23, who started in the Dragons’ 15-8 opening league win over Ulster at Rodney Parade is also set to feature for Keys this weekend.
And they could also be with the services of another player who has regularly been made available to them from the region this season, and in the past, in tighthead prop Nathan Buck, as well as two well-known academy prospects in fly half Angus O’Brien and openside flanker Scott Matthews, both 19.
On Jones and Groves, Ring, who was backs coach when Keys last year won the Swalec Cup and got to the British and Irish Cup final, said: “Steffan and Jevon are very influential players and if they can get a run of games in the competition, that’s great for Keys.
“The pair have got a very good rapport with the club because it was Keys who helped them make that next step forward and get a professional contract – they will want to do well for them.”
Ring, backs coach at Cardiff, is expecting his old friends to do well this weekend.
“Keys have a great coaching set-up with Gred Woods, Jonathan Westwood and Morgan Stoddart – who was a great player in his own right,” he said.
“When I was there, the club had a strong group of players who had great leadership, game understanding, tactical awareness and problem solving skills that were towards the top end of Premiership table.”
Influential centre Phil Williams hopes to overcome a shoulder injury and Ring thinks he could make a big difference against Moseley who were hammered 42-3 at Pandy Park when the two met in the British and Irish Cup in November, 2011, the season which Keys ended as beaten finalists.
“Moseley won’t have very pleasant memories of Keys from the last time they played there when we won by 40 points even though we had a crisis at half back with Phil having to play at outside half, although he did exceptionally well there,” he said.
“He’s one of the team’s unsung heroes. He may not be the most athletic or agile but when you take him out of the side, things drop off.
“Phil has great understanding, a rugby brain that’s up there with the best and he always works well with Steff.”
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