9:20am Monday 12th August 2013
By Chris Kirwan
LYN Jones fears Newport Gwent Dragons may be under-cooked for the big kick-off because of their sparse pre-season schedule.
The region will play just one game – Bath at Rodney Parade on Friday, August 23 – before their RaboDirect opener against Ulster.
They had hoped to play a pre-season encounter against Perpignan and their former captain, Luke Charteris, only for the fixture to fall by the wayside.
Director of rugby Jones, who only penned a deal to return to Rodney Parade in June, admits he is concerned by their lack of action.
“One pre-season game is not ideal,” he said. “We did have another one planned but unfortunately the hosts dropped out.
“It’s quite difficult to fill a friendly spot at this time of year and it’s far from perfect, but one is better than nothing.
“We just need to step up our contact in training somewhat, and come the first game of the season we may not be firing on all cylinders.”
Last season the Dragons played three games before their Pro12 opener against Zebre with mixed success.
They suffered an embarrasing 16-10 loss to a Gwent Select XV in woeful conditions at Rodney Parade and were thrashed 40-3 by Biarritz in horrendous heat in the South of France.
An 18-12 warm-up success against London Irish was a boost, but that win came at a cost when flanker Darren Waters ruptured knee ligaments, pretty much writing off his season.
Meanwhile, Jones says that the late-comers will not be at a disadvantage when vying for starts with those who have enjoyed a full pre-season.
Andrew Coombs trained for the first time last Wednesday following his Wales exertions, while fellow Japan tourist Tom Prydie, Lions ace Toby Faletau and the Wales Under-20s contingent all joined up late.
“People who go on tours do so because they are very good rugby players, so they should be able to get up to speed quickly,” he said.
“When I was with the Ospreys we had 15 fellas coming back in a chunk and that was difficult to deal with, but just half a dozen is something we should be able to deal with.”
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