Head Coach Dai Flanagan has called on Dragons RFC to embrace the experience of the extended tour to South Africa and become even stronger as a unit as a result.
Most of the Dragons squad jet off today (Thursday) for the trip to South Africa that will see them overseas for 18 days.
The Men of Gwent face Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers in the BKT United Rugby Championship before returning to Johannesburg to tackle the Lions again the EPCR Challenge Cup.
It will be an extended stay for Dragons after European fixtures were adjusted, but Flanagan believes the length of time together can be of benefit when the squad return for a series of big derby fixtures over the festive period.
“We as a group are excited to go out there,” he said. “There's going to be opportunity for certain players, with the internationals away early on, and I can't stress how excited we are as a group to get out there.
“The playing group fly out on Thursday. We play at altitude so you either arrive late or early and, with the extra week added on to the tour, it's important that boys get some time with family. We've been able to stay at home the last few days, really train hard, and now it is just prep into the game.
“It will be a different experience,” he added. “We've got quite a lot of youngsters travelling and some quite experienced boys, so I put a lot of pressure on the experienced boys to get around the youngsters as they wouldn't have been away for such a long time.
“It's an opportunity for us to get together and the big message for me is we can get really tight; look after each other while we're away. That then puts us in great stead for a home game against Pau and the derby games.”
Flanagan expects to call of his Wales internationals after the final autumn game with Australia this weekend.
But before that, he is excited to see the first group of players attack the opening game with the Lions.
“We can freshen up the group as we go because we'll have certain players returning from injury who can come out and we’ve got internationals who will come out. But I'm really excited to see our first group go,” he said.
“This group have put the hard work in the last month and this group are really excited to get up to South Africa and show what they are made of.
"We most certainly have the ability (to make an impact), I have no doubt. We've got a decent squad here and the confidence hopefully has grown in the group, so I'm confident. I back these boys and hopefully we start seeing that soon.
“We have a couple of niggles which will probably rule a player or two out of the first week, maybe first two weeks. But it’s about the next man up and that is what excites me here.
“The squad have competed since I've come in. I've asked them to challenge each other daily and there is opportunity for players for coming to show what they can do.”
This group have put the hard work in the last month and this group are really excited to get up to South Africa and show what they are made of...