Basham back for New Year clash


Wales international Taine Basham makes his return as Dragons RFC face rivals Scarlets in the BKT United Rugby Championship at Parc y Scarlets on New Year’s Day (kick-off 5.15pm).

The Men of Gwent make three changes to the side that narrowly lost out to Cardiff Rugby on Boxing Day as they head to Llanelli.

Fit-again Basham makes his first start since October and wears the seven jersey, joining Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty in the back row.

The other change in the pack is a return for Samoa star Aki Seiuli. Rhodri Jones misses the game through injury.

Scrum half Lewis Jones is also named in the line-up and will partner JJ Hanrahan at half back.

Centre Steff Hughes captains the team on his first return to Scarlets.

Changes to the bench include call-ups for prop Luke Yendle, back row Ben Fry and talented young scrum half Che Hope.

Head Coach Dai Flanagan, who was part of the Scarlets coaching set-up for eight seasons before moving to Rodney Parade, believes Dragons most be at their best to get a positive result.

He said: “I’ve watched the Scarlets in the last three games and they're an exciting team, they've turned the corner and some of the performances in the Challenge Cup have been much more like them.

“They are back enjoying their rugby, throwing the ball around and believing in each other.

“There are opportunities to go and play against them and certain areas we will target. But it's definitely a tough game. They've got a talented squad and it is a real challenge for us.”

On selection, Flanagan added: “Continuity is big for us, giving the boys an opportunity to correct some of the wrongs. Then, with the five-day turnaround to the next game, we'll see where we're at.

“It’s also important we don't rush players back. Sometimes players are fit, but they're not rugby fit.

“I'm very much a player centred coach. It might kill me one day, but I have a firm belief that you must treat people correctly and play them when they are ready.”

Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, Rio Dyer, Steff Hughes (c), Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, JJ Hanrahan, Lewis Jones; Aki Seiuli, Bradley Roberts, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, George Nott, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty

Replacements: Brodie Coghlan, Rob Evans, Luke Yendle, Matthew Screech, Ben Fry, Che Hope, Sam Davies, Sio Tomkinson

Unavailable: Gonzalo Bertranou (knee), Ben Carter (ankle), Elliot Dee (collarbone), Lloyd Fairbrother (personal reasons), Rhodri Jones (leg), Harrison Keddie (leg), Aneurin Owen (knee), Will Rowlands (shoulder), David Richards (hamstring)

It's definitely a tough game... They've got a talented squad and it is a real challenge for us...
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