Cory Hill relishing Connacht clash

First published in Sport

LOCK Cory Hill has enjoyed a great start to life with the Newport Gwent Dragons and looks to extend that this weekend away against Connacht.

The 21-year-old only made his debut for the region last month in the 20-8 LV= Cup triumph over Wasps at Rodney Parade after joining from English Championship outfit Moseley.

Since then he impressed in the fine 23-8 RaboDirect PRO12 victory away at Glasgow and the subsequent league encounter, a narrow 18-14 defeat to Munster at home.

The 6ft 5in and 17st 6lb second row hasn’t featured since the loss to Paul O’Connell’s men at the end of November because he was cup-tied for the back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup encounters with Bordeaux-Bègles which followed.

The former Wales Under-20s captain, who skippered his side to a third place finish at last year’s International Rugby Board Junior World Championship in South Africa, wasn’t registered for both games against the Top 14 outfit.

The Dragons were victorious in their first encounter, winning 40-24 with a bonus point at Rodney Parade before going down heavily 32-13 in the return fixture at Bègles last week.

Former Pontypridd player Hill, who was released in the summer by the Cardiff Blues, is looking forward to getting back into the thick of it after a three-week break from playing, his side looking to banish their Amlin Challenge Cup disappointment.

“I had a good run of games but I do feel refreshed after the European break and I can’t wait to face Connacht this weekend,” he said.

“It is a hard place to go and they know how to play to the conditions there very well. They seem to play everything through (former Scotland outside-half) Dan Parks.

“But we’ve got to out there with our game plan and stick to it. We’ve shown what we can do by recently going to Glasgow, who are towards the top of the league, and beating them away.”

Hill seems to have made a seamless move to Rodney Parade after leaving Birmingham side Moseley.

“I have settled in very quickly and I know (head coach) Darren Edwards and lot of the boys from playing age grade rugby for Wales in Ieuan Jones, Jonathan Evans and Jason Tovey,” he said.

“And I know people like T Rhys Thomas and Richie Rees from my days with the Blues so I’ve been made very welcome.

“When I was released in the summer, my move to Moseley was a bit of a stepping stone to get back into regional rugby and I’m really enjoying things here.”

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