WELSH RUGBY MAY be deep in the fryer at the moment but Newport Gwent Dragons had some good news to announce this morning.
Having lured Wales and Lions fullback Lee Byrne back from the Top 14, Dragons have named the 34-year-old as club captain for the season. Byrne was signed from Clermont Auvergne at the tail-end of last season and will be with the Gwent side until at least the summer of 2016.
Capped 46 times for Wales, the former Scarlets and Ospreys player was included on the Lions Tour of 2009. He edged out Rob Kearney to start as fullback against South Africa in the first Test but injured his thumb and was replaced before half-time.
On becoming skipper of Dragons, Byrne commented: “It’s probably one of the best pieces of news that I have ever had. Throughout my rugby career I have had both highs and lows, and this for me is right up there in the highs.
“Becoming captain of the Dragons will be a massive challenge for me, but now it’s time for us to make sure that we deliver as a team. We have been given the best of everything this season, including the squad, coaches and the new training facility.” He added:
I want to lead by example and I hope that the youngsters can learn from my attitude and the experience that I have gained through my international career and through playing in France.”
Dragons director of rugby, Lyn Jones said: “Lee’s ability as a player is outstanding; he has great leadership skills and has a lot of experience behind him.
“Andrew Coombs captained the side very well last season, but I feel that this is a season that I need apply change throughout which will also allow Andrew to focus on his international career.” Byrne has not featured for Wales since a pool game against Fiji at the 2011 World Cup.