WHEN it comes to facing the grind of pre-season training, Lewis Evans has been there, done it and bought the T-shirt.

The experienced forward, who turns 32 today, is taking on the annual summer slog for the 14th year as a Dragons player.

But with the next generation of Dragons keeping him on his toes, his enthusiasm ahead of the new campaign shows no signs of abating.

Evans is the leading appearance maker at Rodney Parade with 227 games and counting, however, he acknowledges that reputations and the past count for little with so many talented youngsters around.

“I think everyone has to perform,” he said. “I think we are all under scrutiny with everything we do, whether that’s in the gym or on the field, even off the field.

“The likes of Ben Fry and Taine Basham coming through, I think they are 10 years younger than me now. It does make me feel slightly old at times, but they keep me on my toes.

“It’s all about pushing each other, I may challenge them with some rugby things and we’ve just started to integrate some of the lineouts and other skills.

“I’m pushing them and they’re pushing me in other ways. I think that’s the way it’s got to be, we’ve got to keep each other on our toes and keep progressing forward.

“It’s going to be an interesting pre-season and I think we’re going to develop as a team and again, hopefully, that then transfers onto the pitch and the way that we are going to play.”

Despite more than a double century of appearances, Evans retains a youthful eagerness for the season ahead.

And he has revealed his latest target after signing a new two-year contract earlier this summer.

“I’ve got two more years to really go out and play the best rugby that I can,” he added.

“There is an element of taking on some mentorships. I’m trying to make sure that when I do leave there are boys who can slip into that position straight away.

“I enjoy that role and hopefully it’s going to push me as much as it’s going to push them.

“As for targets, I wouldn’t mind trying to get to the 250 mark.

“I think that would be a nice target, but staying fit and having the game time when it’s beneficial to me and the team is going to be key.”

On pre-season so far, he commented: “I still like to think I’ve still got a bit of youth left in me, but after 14 pre-seasons they do add up and take their toll.

“It’s been a good start, the boys are looking pretty good and they’re all enjoying it.

“I think players were just as conscious as anyone else that it is technically a four-month pre-season and, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about that."