Dai Young is pleased that the arrival of Matthew Screech will bolster an already highly-competitive second row division at Cardiff Arms Park.
It was confirmed earlier this week that the Dragons lock will return to the Welsh capital ahead of the 2021/22 campaign, having graduated through the club’s academy system before making the switch to Rodney Parade.
Director of rugby, Young, has previously spoken about his desire to build strength in depth throughout his squad and is confident the signing of Screech takes him a step closer to achieving his goal.
“If you want to move things forward, you need to have strength in depth. Part of the process in the Rainbow Cup has been giving people opportunities outside of what I’ve seen a lot of,” said the former Wales international.
“With that in mind, we’re bringing someone like Screech on board, who initially came through our pathway, but went on to do some really good things at Dragons and gained good experience.
“We’re really pleased to have him back here. He will add a lot to the group and add to the competition for a starting place.
“He’s got the experience but he’s also got growth in him. He runs the line-out really well, he carries strongly and defensive he’s strong as well.
“But there’s plenty of competition in the group here and it makes my job easier when you’ve got players pushing each other and fighting for a spot.
“It sends a great message to the second row group that everyone has to keep on pushing each other and there’s no reason why they can’t go into international honours on a regular basis.”
With homegrown international players such as Jarrod Evans and Owen Lane putting pen-to-paper on new deals with the club in recent weeks, Young is also pleased with the progress of player retention at the capital, as the off season fast approaches.
“We’re always looking at quality players but we’ve got to be realistic and honest about it,” adds the director of rugby.
“The board have done really well to get to where we are in terms of retention, which is as important if not more so than recruitment.
“We haven’t lost any players but extended the contracts of a number of high profile players. We’ve done really well to keep hold of everyone.
“I don’t see anyone else coming through the door in the short term but who knows as the season gets on. We’re always on the look out so we’ll never say never but it’s probably unlikely in the short term.
“The difficulty is that we lose so many to international rugby and they’re away for big periods of time.
“So you’re putting two different teams together at times. You’ve got your team when everyone’s available, and then a side during the international periods where, for example in the Six Nations, we lost 11 players.
“You do need players who have versatility, and first and foremost it’s about strengthening two teams - both your perceived first team but also the side that backs up that international team, because traditionally they tend to play more games than your international players, so they need to be strong as well.
“Of course you need versatility, but you can’t have jack-of-all-trades across the board because you also need specialists who can take you to the next level.
“So you’re constantly looking for both types of players”