8:32am Wednesday 2nd April 2014
By Chris Kirwan
IAN Gough is more than happy for there to be naysayers after returning to Newport Gwent Dragons – they just provide him with extra motivation to finish his career with a bang at Rodney Parade.
Some wags pondered whether it was an April fools' day joke when it was confirmed that the 37-year-old former Wales lock had penned a deal to head home next season.
But hard-hitting Gough, who made his Newport debut in 1996 before going on to make 139 appearances for the Black and Ambers and 92 for the Dragons, insists there is plenty of gas left in the tank.
He may have responsibility to help in the development of locks Cory Hill, Matthew Screech and Joe Davies but the 64-times capped forward wants the young guns to watch and learn from the sidelines.
"I've seen first-hand the raw talent at the Dragons and I want to help those second rows come through," he said.
"I'll pass on some tips, pointers and cheats that I've picked up through the years but I will be coming back to the Dragons to play – I want to finish my career on a high and I want to leave a mark.
"There will be some doubters because of my age but that's great motivation for me. I want to show them that I can still do it."
Gough is certainly showing that at the moment in the supremely physical Aviva Premiership with London Irish and his exploits led to offers from English clubs.
But once the Dragons made their move it was a no-brainer for the lock, who was close to a Rodney Parade return before heading over the Severn Bridge last September.
"I've always wanted to come back to the place where I came through," said Gough. "I thought that the chance had gone when the move fell through at the last minute earlier this season.
"I drew a line underneath it and thankfully London Irish gave me the opportunity to play some games and show that I can still perform at this level.
"I wanted to see that my body could stand up to it and it feels good so I am having one more season. I had other offers but it was always going to be the Dragons."
Gough has some unfinished business with the region after leaving for the Ospreys in 2007, saying at the time that he was frustrated at the lack of ambition coming from the board.
He was tempted to the Liberty Stadium by Lyn Jones and it is the same man that has brought him back to Rodney Parade with the promise of brighter times.
"After having a really good first season and a pretty decent second one I felt that we were slipping off a little bit and had lost some momentum back in 2007," said Gough.
"I was at the point of my career where I had ambitions to win things and I did that at the Ospreys.
"But under Lyn it's a totally different place; he's a great operator even if he's not straight out of the manual!
"I think the time to judge the Dragons will be next season when him and Kingsley (Jones, forwards coach) have had time to shape things. It'll be an exciting season and I believe we can push to be top Welsh region."
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