Vastly experienced Lewis Evans admits he is really enjoying his 14th pre-season at the region – with the next generation of Dragons keeping him on his toes!
Evans knows all about preparations for the new campaign after a career that has already seen him clock up 227 games for the Rodney Parade outfit.
The Newport born forward – who turns 32 today (Tuesday) – is hoping for a big season from the region and believes the early signs in pre-season have been positive.
And he is sure that reputations will count for nothing under new Director of Dragons Rugby Dean Ryan with everyone out to impress.
“I still like to think I’ve still got a bit of youth left in me, but after fourteen pre-seasons they do add up and take their toll,” joked Evans.
“It’s been a good start, the boys are looking pretty good and they’re all enjoying it at the moment. It is a clean slate, so it’s been a very good start to the pre-season.”
“I think players were just as conscious as anyone else that it is technically a four-month pre-season and, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about that thought.
“But we’ve been tapered in really well and have been concentrating on the basics, with skills and some light conditioning, to get us all ready.
“I think when we come back for the second block of pre-season it’s going to be ramped up a lot and we’ll be focussing on the style of rugby that we hope to play. It’s going to be a very interesting couple of months.”
Evans is the leading appearance maker at Dragons with a stunning regional career that goes back to his debut in 2008.
However, he acknowledges that reputations and the past count for very little with so many talented youngsters being churned out by the Dragons Academy.
“I think everyone has to perform,” he said. “I think we are all under scrutiny with everything we do, whether that’s in the gym or on the field, even off the field.
“The likes of Ben Fry and Taine coming through, I think they are ten years younger than me now. It does make me feel slightly old at times, but they keep me on my toes.
“It’s all about pushing each other, I may challenge them with some rugby things and we’ve just started to integrate some of the line-outs and other skills.
“I’m pushing them and they’re pushing me in other ways. I think that’s the way it’s got to be, we’ve got to keep each other on our toes and keep progressing forward.
“It’s going to be an interesting pre-season and I think we’re going to develop as a team and again, hopefully, that then transfers onto the pitch and the way that we are going to play.”
Despite over a double century of appearances, Evans retains a youthful enthusiasm for the campaign ahead.
And he has revealed the latest target after signing a new two-year contract in the summer.
“I’ve got two more years to really go out and play the best rugby that I can,” he said.
“There is an element of taking on some mentorships. I’m trying to make sure that when I do leave there are boys who can slip into that position straight away.
“I enjoy that role and hopefully it’s going to push me as much as it’s going to push them.
“As for targets… I wouldn’t mind trying to get to the 250 mark,” he smiled.
“I think that would be a nice target, but I think me staying fit, having the game time when it’s beneficial to me and the team, is going to be key. I’m looking forward to it and it’s going to be a good season.”
"I still like to think I’ve still got a bit of youth left in me, but after fourteen pre-seasons they do add up...