8:08am Saturday 8th February 2014
RICHIE Rees acknowledges the need for Newport Gwent Dragons need to get their season back on track after a miserable start to the year as they embark on a make-or-break month in the RaboDirect Pro12.
The region host Edinburgh at Rodney Parade tomorrow (kick-off 1.05pm) and victory is a must for the Dragons ahead of fixtures with title hopefuls Leinster, Glasgow and Ulster.
The Dragons endured a tough January that saw them produce a lacklustre performance in defeat to Cardiff Blues before being overpowered by Bath in the Amlin Challenge Cup and Northampton and Newcastle in the LV= Cup.
Director of rugby Lyn Jones rotated his squad in those games to give everyone a chance but will aim for some continuity in a key block of fixtures for the sixth-placed Dragons.
"These four games are huge," said scrum-half Rees, who joined from Edinburgh last summer. "Hopefully we can perform like we did at the start of the season because in all honesty we have taken our foot off the gas a little.
"We want to get back to where we were. Compared to last season sixth is good but we've moved on as a squad and we know that it hasn't been good enough recently.
"We are going into these games with a similar squad to the one that won in Glasgow (during the autumn internationals) and we are looking forward to it."
Edinburgh took the spoils when the sides met at Murrayfield in September with a last-minute penalty by Harry Leonard making it 16-13.
The Scottish side, who haven't played since losing to Munster in the final group game of the Heineken Cup on January 19, have changed in style from the 2012/13 outfit that contained Rees and fellow Dragon Netani Talei.
And the 30-year-old believes their emphasis on overseas stars will ensure Edinburgh are strong even without their Scotland Six Nations contingent.
Rees said: "Edinburgh brought in a new coach in Alan Solomons and have signed a lot of South Africans and a couple of Argentinians, so they keep the core of their side together (during international periods).
"They have got a big tight five and big ball carriers – (prop) Willem Nel, (hooker) Aleki Lutui, (lock) Izak van der Westhuizen – so our pack will have a big job to do."
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