9:02am Thursday 5th September 2013
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons boss Lyn Jones knows what's coming from Ulster – and this time he can't hide behind his sofa.
The director of rugby has swapped London Welsh for Rodney Parade and the Aviva Premiership for the RaboDirect Pro12.
His first game in the hotseat is a daunting one against an Ulster side that have made the knockout stages of the last three Heineken Cups and finished at the top of the league last season before losing to Leinster in the final.
Jones is relishing the change to open up against a genuine European heavyweight.
He said: "They are not just the best team in the Rabo but I believe they are in the top four of Europe as well – I really enjoyed watching them last year... from the safety of my flat in Richmond!
"They had a wonderful approach to the attacking game and it's an opportunity to find out exactly where we are.
"To be the best you've got to play against the best, we can't measure ourselves against the lower end of the league, we want to compete and be at the top. To do that we need to perform and learn from playing the best."
Jones is no stranger to locking horns with the Ulstermen from his successful spell with the Ospreys.
Overseas stars Ruan Pienaar, John Afoa, Johann Muller, Jared Payne and Nick Williams have certainly added some quality to the Ravenhill outfit but the Dragons boss says it's the same blueprint as the one he has faced since the inception of regional rugby.
"What's important is that you understand their threats and Ulster haven't changed since 2003," he said.
"They still have the same ideas on how to play the game and what they have done very smartly under David Humphreys is that they have signed some really good players from abroad to strengthen their squad and allow the Irish players to develop.
"They are a very confident side with all the cards to play. We need to put them under pressure and push them into Plan B.
"Having said that we know that Ulster have got quality players that can make the difference in the last 20 minutes. They have got a scattering of world class performers who act as catalysts."
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