9:02am Thursday 5th June 2014
EBBW Vale boss Jason Strange has challenged new recruits Ethan Davies and James Leadbeater to push for a return to regional rugby by shining at Eugene Cross Park, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Steelmen, who are heading back to the top flight of club rugby after four titles on the spin, have added some Premiership experience to their squad by signing the half-backs fr om Newport.
Fly-half Davies, 20, is currently with Wales Under-20s at the Junior World Championship and has been released from the Dragons Academy while scrum-half Leadbeater, 25, made 13 regional appearances between 2009 and 2012.
Former fly-half Strange believes his new half-backs could still make the grade as full-timers if they thrive behind the Ebbw front eight at Eugene Cross Park.
"James is a quality scrum-half and it promises to be a great battle for the 9 jersey between him, Dai Jones and Chris Thomas," said the head coach.
"But James has a really good work ethic when it comes to his training – he is a professional in a semi-professional environment – and I am sure he can return to the top of his game.
"He is ambitious and I have no doubt that he has the quality to push for regional rugby. The same goes for Ethan, who is still a young man with plenty to learn about the game and it's not too late for him.
"He will be disappointed with how things turned out at the Dragons but he comes here to play rugby behind a good pack and develop his game."
Leadbeater and Davies join tighthead prop Gethin Robinson and utility back Tom James, who is set to be used primarily as a full-back, in heading north from the Black and Ambers.
Pontypridd winger Owen Williams, who hails from Blackwood, will provide more Premiership experience while centre David James, wing Luke Davies and flanker Kier Hughes have all penned fresh deals with the Steelmen.
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