THE Dragons’ signing of Wales and Lions powerhouse Jamie Roberts is a coup to rival the Rodney Parade arrival of Springboks superstars Percy Montgomery and Gary Teichmann, according to Ian Gough.

Centre Roberts has returned to Wales after seven years playing for Racing 92 in France, Harlequins and Bath in England and the Stormers in South Africa.

The signing of the Cardiff Blues legend is another boost to Dean Ryan’s squad that has already been bolstered by Wales backs Jonah Holmes and Nick Tompkins.

The 33-year-old was born in Newport and said on Monday that he fell in love with rugby after being taken to watch the Black and Ambers by his father Norman.

Among the players in his autograph book was Gough, who he would go on to play alongside with Wales.

The hard-hitting lock has hailed the signing of Roberts as one to rival those of the South African stars who were lured to Newport by Tony Brown.

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“Jamie is up there with Percy Montgomery and Gary Teichmann – he’s a great big-name signing,” said Gough, who made 139 appearances for Newport and played 102 times in two spells for the Dragons.

“It’s great for the fans, giving them hope and showing ambition because they have had a tough stint over the years and deserve a bit of positive news and some success.

“Jamie is a great signing and even though he is in the autumn of his career – and I have been in that position – will really boost the squad.

“He is a different animal to some and has performed to the highest degree at all the clubs he has been at, whether in France, England or South Africa. Jamie still has the drive and the hunger and has been putting in the displays.

“Clubs are sometimes a bit wary of bringing in players who are coming towards the end of their careers but Jamie is a good choice and will add a lot to the squad.”

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Gough was in the boilerhouse when Roberts made his Test debut as a wing against Scotland in the 2008 Six Nations, part two of a Grand Slam.

The Cardiff Blues back was then turned into a centre and became a key figure of Warren Gatland’s team with his direct running and defensive strength.

Gough stresses that Roberts wasn’t, and isn’t, just about the collisions.

“When he came in I was struck by him being a strong, strong bloke and he packed on even more weight as he carried on,” said former lock, who was then with the Ospreys.

“But he also had incredible footwork for such a big lad – sometimes I think he has been unfairly pigeonholed as a crash, bang guy.

“He wasn’t that, I remember doing defence drills in training and you’d think that you had him lined up because he is such a big lad but he had the agility and sleight of foot to put you off balance and put you on a weak shoulder, making it hard to put a good shot on him.”

Gough passed on knowledge to up-and-comers when he returned to the Dragons in 2014 and believes Roberts has the manner to thrive when having the same responsibility.

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“He is a legend – he is a Lion, had 90-odd Welsh caps and has been there and done it, playing in leagues all over the world,” said Gough.

“But he is also a nice bloke who comes across well and has time for people. He is a rounded individual and he won’t be an unapproachable character for the youngsters that want to learn off him.

“He is amicable and will chat to those boys, so they will progress under him. His role will be not just to play but be a good role model to bring them on.

“Jamie will want to finish his career on a high. He is a very ambitious bloke and will do that alongside the development of the younger and less experienced players.”