FORMER Dragons duo James Thomas and Sam Beard have signed for Cardiff RFC, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Blue and Blacks, Premiership runners-up and WRU National Cup winners in 2018/19, have made a major statement of intent by snapping up lock/flanker Thomas and centre Beard.

Thomas made 54 appearances for the Rodney Parade region, earning a return to professional rugby in 2014 thanks to his Premiership exploits at Bedwas after being released by the academy because of serious knee injuries.

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The 28-year-old from Blackwood had a superb first campaign, enjoying 28 outings and impressive with his work rate and aggression.

However, a knee issue hindered his training so last season he decided to return to part-time training while starting a career outside rugby and putting to use his biomedical science degree.

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Beard returns to Wales after making 32 appearances for the Dragons.

The New Zealander, Welsh-qualified through a grandfather from Monmouth, was a firm fixture in midfield after joining from Edinburgh in 2016.

The 29-year-old suffered a torn pec at the start of the following season and surprisingly wasn’t offered a new contract at the end of the campaign.

Last year he played for Canterbury in the Mitre Cup and the Crusaders against the French Barbarians.

Beard said: “Since coming back from New Zealand I’ve been focusing on my off field commitments, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on the playing field and being involved with Cardiff RFC in the 2019 season and putting down a marker.”

The duo are joined by a raft of other signings as Cardiff aim to topple Merthyr.

Former Bedwas boss Steve Law has bolstered his squad with three players from Bridge Field - prop Brynley Toms, back row Nathan Hudd, fly-half Joe Scrivens.

Highly-rated Pontypool tighthead Ollie Drake heads for the Arms Park along with ex-Dragons centre Barney Nightingale from Bargoed.

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Cross Keys stalwart Leon Andrews, comfortable at full-back or midfield, returns to the capital after 12 years at Pandy Park.

Hooker Evan Yardley (RGC), lock James Rattie (Ospreys), back row Alex Everett (Cardiff University), scrum-halves Tom Habberfield (Ospreys) and Ben Williams (Ealing) have also signed.