Dragons skipper Cory Hill lifts the lid on his teammates, his experiences with the Lions this summer and the exciting new future for the re-branded Welsh region in the Guinness PRO14.
Q. Who is the toughest opponent you have come up against in the Guinness PRO14?
A. It would have to be Alun Wyn Jones – we all know what sort of a player he is. A level guy but always on the edge. He’s such a great player. I suppose it can be quite hard to play against a hero because you have so much respect for him – but you have to show that respect by trying to challenge them and beat them hopefully.
Q. Who is the hardest trainer at the Dragons?
A. That would have to be Ollie Griffiths, I wouldn’t necessarily say he is the first one in the gym and the last one out. But when he is in, he is just a mental trainer.
Q. Who is the last player to put his hand in his pocket on a night out?
A. That is definitely Matthew Screech – Screech by name but Scrooge by nature.
Newport Gwent Dragons’ Matthew Screech is tackled by Munster’s Mark Chisholm
Q. Who is the first on the dancefloor?
A. Luke Garrett, without a shadow of a doubt. And to be fair, he has got some cracking moves.
Q. Who is in charge of the tunes in the changing room?A. Charlie Davies is the resident DJ, he is big into his decks so any social that we have he likes to bring them along and give us a quick set. He goes down pretty well with the guys.
Q. What are you most looking forward to about travelling to South Africa this season?
A. It’s a fantastic country, I have been there before back with the Wales U20s for our World Championships. That was in Cape Town so obviously it will be different for the Kings and Cheetahs. Hopefully a bit of hot weather and some great open running rugby.
Q. What does it say about the league that the last few winners have all played with a real attacking flair?
A. The way the Scarlets played at the end of last season shows the way all the teams are trying to go, playing a lot more attacking rugby. And with two Super Rugby teams joining is going to make it even more expansive and better for the crowds to watch .
Q. Tell me about your first try as professional?
A. Yeah it was probably about a 30m sprint in to the line I expect! I can’t really remember to be honest – but it was a good one against Glasgow Warriors at Rodney Parade (in February 2014). I don’t score that many but they are normally quite good.
Q. Which other player in the Guinness PRO14 would you least like to meet in a dark alley?
A. That’s a very tough one, but in our team if I had to pick someone who is a bit of a nutter that would have to be James Thomas.
Q. If not your own team, who do you think will win the Guinness PRO14 this year?
A. Well it would be nice to see the Welsh sides doing well again, the Scarlets doing so well last year was great and gives everyone a boost and hopefully we can push on and compete at a decent level.
Q. Tell us about your summer then, that must have been quite some experience with the Lions?
A. Travelling with Wales to the southern hemisphere was great, and to get a call up after that for the Lions was a dream come true, an awesome experience. It was great to work with world class coaches and players and I really tried to absorb everything and hopefully I can bring it back here. A couple of the boys like me didn’t get on, so we have had a taste and in four years’ time now hopefully I can build for that.
Q. And how exciting is this new era at the Dragons?
A. Bernard (Jackman) coming in with some new staff, everything about it has changed the whole set-up for the better. There is a lot more drive there and the standards have been lifted. With the union on board everything is going in the right direction.
Q. What did you learn from last season?
A. It was a hard year, with the takeover and a lot going on off the pitch. We didn’t quite put the performances we wanted and coming 11th is not acceptable by any stretch. But we know that with a few fresh faces and fresh ideas we want to put that right.
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie