Tom Prydie: Pressure on Dragons starters to perform

DESPERATE TO IMPRESS: Tom Prydie hopes to line up on the Dragons' right wing

DESPERATE TO IMPRESS: Tom Prydie hopes to line up on the Dragons' right wing

First published in Sport
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NEWPORT Gwent Dragons may be down to the bare bones in midfield but Tom Prydie believes competition for places is heating up elsewhere ahead of the start of the Guinness Pro12.

The Dragons open their campaign against Connacht in Galway on Saturday (kick-off 5pm) and Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan, their last fit centres, are set to line up in midfield.

The smart money would go on Wales internationals Lee Byrne and Aled Brew wearing 15 and 11, leaving Prydie to tussle with Matthew Pewtner for the right wing berth.

The five-times capped Wales international took his chance to impress when he was the only man to play the full 80 minutes against Northampton last Friday, converting his own last-gasp try to secure a 27-25 victory against the English champions.

With talented teenager Hallam Amos nearing a return to action following shoulder surgery, Prydie knows that he must take every opportunity that comes his way.

"There is real competition for places in the back three and I think that it's the same throughout the squad," said the 22-year-old. "That can only be a good thing and we will all be trying to give the coaches some headaches.

"It could be your last game for a while if you don't perform; that will keep us on our toes and if you are given the shirt then you have to play well to hold on to it.

"The boys off the bench made a huge impact against Northampton and that shows that the squad is a lot deeper this year."

Prydie is fighting fit after a frustrating summer that saw him denied the chance to earn a spot in Wales' squad for South Africa by a quad injury.

He was forced to sit out the Probables versus Possibles trial at the Liberty Stadium and saw Matthew Morgan and Jordan Williams make late charges into the touring party.

"I was gutted that I couldn't play in the trial but the flip side was that I have been able to have a full pre-season, which I haven't had in five years," he said.

"It's been good to get that under my belt and work hard on conditioning while it's good that we are going into the season on the back of three wins (against Bristol, Lydney and Northampton).

"Friendlies count for nothing but the squad has gelled together really well and we are looking forward to Connacht, it is a tough place to go but we are looking forward to the challenge."

Connacht have received a boost ahead of the opener with captain John Muldoon, prop Ronan Loughney and lock/back row Aly Muldowney all back in full training.

They will be without former All Black Mils Muliaina, who is out until late October because of an elbow injury, while Ireland internationals Robbie Henshaw and Kieran Marmion's sit out the fixture because their game time is being managed.

Centre Bundee Aki and hooker Tom McCartney are still on ITM Cup duty for Counties Manakau and Auckland respectively.

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