8:02am Wednesday 11th June 2014
By Chris Kirwan
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons are bringing Andy Powell back to Rodney Parade after signing the former Wales and Lions back row forward on a one-year deal.
The 32-year-old from Brecon will make his return to union next season after changing codes last year to play for Super League and Challenge Cup winners Wigan.
Powell, 6ft 4ins and 18st, cut his teeth with Newport and made 50 appearances for the Black and Ambers under the tutelage of Ian McIntosh between 2000 and 2003.
He went on to play for Leicester, Beziers, the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, London Wasps and Sale Sharks with his dynamic ball carrying earning 23 caps for Wales – four of which came at the 2011 World Cup – and selection for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009.
Powell has not played since taking on Huddersfield with Wigan last September and neck surgery denied him the chance to represent Wales at the Rugby League World Cup.
He passed a medical on Monday and was put through his paces along with his new teammates at pre-season training at the Dragons' base in Ystrad Mynach yesterday.
And now Powell, who will be 33 when the campaign gets under way, is looking to show he still has plenty to offer.
"I am extremely delighted to be back in Wales and in Newport," he said. "I have very fond memories of playing for Newport RFC and can remember the great support we had from fans.
"I was very impressed through last season with (head coach) Kingsley Jones and (director of rugby) Lyn Jones' ambitions for the region. I am very excited about the challenges that lie ahead and look forward to challenging the other Welsh regions for silverware."
Powell can play blindside flanker but has been signed predominantly as a number eight and provides the Dragons with a strong ball-carrying option.
He will battle for starts with Wales ace Taulupe Faletau, whose arrival on the Test scene led to the end of Powell's Wales career, and Fijian back row forward Netani Talei.
Powell is another experienced campaigner that will be available to the Dragons throughout the season following the summer signings of full-back Lee Byrne, wing Aled Brew, locks Ligtoring Landman and Ian Gough and props Boris Stankovich and Dave Young.
The region have also signed 24-year-old hooker Rhys Buckley and 22-year-old tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother.
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