Hill - We're Looking Forward
Captain Cory Hill insists the Dragons are looking forward with renewed optimism this season – and is targeting a big start to the new Guinness PRO14 campaign on home soil.
The lock has joined up with a new-look squad bolstered by a number of new signings, notably the likes of Welsh team-mate Ross Moriarty, Richard Hibbard and Rhodri Williams.
And speaking at the team's kit launch yesterday Hill, 26, believes the ambition at Dragons has soared as the countdown to the new season gathers pace.
"We're not looking at the past anymore - we're looking forward,” insisted Hill. "There is an excited buzz about the camp and everyone is really positive.
"Coming back into camp, it is nice to see all the boys with smiles on their faces and it feels like a new place.
"We are putting what has been behind us, looking forward with a new squad and you only have to look at the strength in depth we have created. Hopefully we can keep the boys fit.
"Everyone is enjoying their work and that is the main thing. We can start with a bang against Benetton Rugby.
"It's a massive season and you look at the signings we have made the boys we have kept hold of - the ambition is massive here,” he added.
"We've got to put what we have been talking about into fruition and start getting the wins on the field.
"We've got a couple of home games to start off with and we've spoken briefly about it. Everyone is focused on the task ahead.
"We've got a few pre-season games to get some game time into the boys and then start with a bang against Benetton Rugby.”
Hill shone during the summer months with Wales, named co-captain with Ellis Jenkins and being hailed by Warren Gatland as the most improved player within the squad.
And the Maesycoed-born second row is keen to build on his last 12 months and the achievements of the tour to South America.
"It was a good tour," said Hill. "There were little expectations back home and big expectations in camp and we fulfilled those. We were pretty pleased overall.
"Gats (Warren Gatland) said it was a good tour and from inside the camp it was a really enjoyable one.
"Everyone got on well, had smiles on faces and really enjoyed it, on and off the field.
"It was a massive achievement getting named co-captain,” he added. "I felt it worked really well between me and Ellis (Jenkins).
“We shared the responsibilities and it worked well for us. We both got to lead the boys out, which was nice. To get three victories was the icing on the cake.
"Hats off to the senior boys on tour, they played outstanding on the pitch. But they also played a big role off the pitch.
"The youngsters also really stepped up and played a big part. Everyone had game time and that was another bonus.”
Hill has returned recharged and determined to take his international form back onto the domestic stage with less than a month until the big league opener with Benetton Rugby at Rodney Parade.
And he firmly believes the experiences of the last 12 months will only benefit the squad as they look to a new beginning.
"Last year I got the experience of captaining the Dragons and it was a tough time,” he admitted
"But those tough times will put us in good stead for this year. Hopefully we can have a good season.
"I've been happy with my form and had a really good year last season.
“Hopefully I can take that form into this year, but the most important thing is getting the Dragons winning. Then we might get a few more in the Welsh jersey.”
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