9:01am Thursday 27th March 2014
DIRECTOR of rugby Lyn Jones says Newport Gwent Dragons are closing in on seasoned recruits in the tight five that will shore up their struggling set piece.
The Rodney Parade region have failed to find a solution to season upon season of their pack being shunted backwards.
Last Sunday they were humbled by Connacht's driving lineout and scrum, forcing Jones to change his entire front row after just half an hour.
They fared better when 39-year-old ex-England tighthead Duncan Bell, who was tempted out of retirement by the region and who is unable to train full-time because of his job as a mortgage consultant, was on the pitch but that is a short-term fix until the end of the season.
Jones has already moved to secure the services of savvy Leicester loosehead Boris Stankovich for next season and the 34-year-old will be joined by some more seasoned campaigners at tighthead and in the second row, with signings set to be announced in the coming weeks.
"We have been talking to several players," said the director of rugby. "You certainly don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out where we need to strengthen the squad and that's what we are doing.
"We have worked towards signings for next season and I am planning way ahead and also thinking about a year from now because you can't get to March, April and May before thinking about signings."
Experience has been a key theme in Jones' recruitment so far with 33-year-old full back Lee Byrne and 27-year-old wing Aled Brew joining Stankovich in penning deals at Rodney Parade.
"The deterioration of this squad over a number of years has been unacceptable," said Jones. "I need to reverse that and it takes time.
"We have a good academy here with promising players. Lots of them will come through but first I need to bring champions into this changing room because we are used to losing and that mentality needs to be changed.
"We need to bring in seasoned internationals and the Boris Stankoviches of this world who know what the game is about.
"We need to increase that pool to get the young Welsh players to drive through. The knock-on effect of the older fellas coming in is that the new talent will be able to flourish and learn in a proper environment."
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