Red hot Rodney Parade helping Chaparro to settle at the Dragons
9:02am Wednesday 16th October 2013 in Sport
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons' passionate fans have made Francisco Chaparro feel at home at Rodney Parade, now the Argentina international want to give them some joy on the road.
The 24-year-old tighthead prop, who has been capped twice by the Pumas, signed for the region from Stade Francais this summer.
Forwards coach Kingsley Jones pleaded for patience with the new recruit, saying that he was young in propping years and needed to get used to a new culture and language, but the South American has settled in nicely.
Chaparro yesterday issued an unnecessary apology for his English – it was excellent – but he has also done his talking on the pitch.
He has featured in every game and started the last four, setting up a try for fellow prop Phil Price with a delightful offload against the Scarlets and then barging over himself against Mogliano last Friday.
Chaparro has had his shaky moments, like any prop does, but is relishing the chance to work on his weaknesses.
"I am very happy here," said Chaparro. "It's a great club and the fans are passionate – the support is like Argentina.
"I am getting the chance to work hard every week and try to get better and stronger in the set piece."
The key to doing that is game time.
Chaparro made his first strides in the game for La Plata, an amateur club in the province of Buenos Aires.
His exploits earned a deal with Stade Francais and although he did get to work alongside iconic Pumas prop Rodrigo Roncero, chances were hard to come by in Paris.
"I am playing more now and that helps you learn and get better," said Chaparro. "It's a good challenge for me to work hard and I am happy. The props here are all friends and there is healthy competition."
But Chaparro could face the biggest test of his credentials against Bath on Saturday if he finds himself opposite Wales loosehead Paul James.
The Dragons were under the pump up front when the sides met in pre-season. The hosts will undoubtedly go on the attack at the Rec with their tight five.
"It will be a tough game with a lot of mauls, lineouts and scrums," said Chaparro. "We need to be strong in the set piece."
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