HE won't be pitchside at his old stomping ground but Simon Cross hopes to see the fruits of his labour when he tunes in to watch the Dragons face the physical onslaught in Edinburgh on Friday night.

The defence coach was brought in by director of rugby Dean Ryan over the summer and has continued to work with the Rodney Parade region at the start of the season.

Cross is fitting the role around his full-time job as head of rugby at Royal Grammar School Worcester, with that responsibility meaning he won't be part of the management team at Murrayfield.

However, the former Edinburgh captain has played a key role in the preparation for the clash in the Scottish capital with a focus on their hosts' power game.

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"Edinburgh are good side, they are well coached and they are a physical side," said Cross, a former back row forward.

"What I was really pleased about last weekend was the physicality we brought to the Leinster game. I was impressed with the physicality, in particular of the front five in Dublin, I thought they were excellent.

"There were certainly areas we need to work on and one of those at training on Tuesday was making sure we get our organisation in defence right, with the right people standing in the right places. If you don't do that then Edinburgh can hurt you."

The Dragons have operated without a full-time defence coach since Hendre Marnitz was sacked last season, leading to Ryan moving swiftly to bring in Cross.

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"I worked with Dean at Worcester so I knew how he operates and he knows me, which is where the relationship works," he said.

"It's a pretty open environment, but it's a challenging one for coaches and players alike. You are challenged to find different ways of doing things and to keep getting better.

"I think the boys are starting to see that and understand that it's an environment where we are asking you to get the best out of yourselves and keep on improving."

Cross, who also worked with the Dragons' next generation in the Celtic Cup, has praised the appetite for learning at the Ystrad Mynach training base.

"I've been thoroughly impressed with the boys here. I've coached a few Welsh lads before with my time at Worcester, Edinburgh and Glasgow but never a Welsh team," he said.

"They are just the most coachable blokes I've ever coached and they are a talented bunch.

"I don't think these guys at the Dragons have realised how good they can be. There's as much talent here as any other side or regional team that I have coached.

"It's a tough region that reminds me of the Borders in Scotland, there's no reason why in two or three years' time this can't be a really good side."

The teams for Friday's game are announced at midday tomorrow with Edinburgh, who were edged out by Benetton in Treviso last time out, set to be boosted by several members of their Scotland World Cup contingent.

"Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis, John Barclay, Jamie Ritchie and Simon Berghan will all be available to play," said boss Richard Cockerill.

"They've had a tough time away from home and they want to come back and play for Edinburgh."