On-loan Luke Baldwin has called on Dragons to produce performances packed full of work-rate and desire – as he bids to upset his parent club in European action this weekend.
Scrum half Baldwin is on loan from Worcester this season but today is named among the replacements as Dragons make the trip to Sixways Stadium (kick-off 3pm).
The 29-year-old is full of smiles about the unusual situation as he prepares to tackle friends and team-mates from Worcester in the Pool 1 clash.
However, his focus is very much on helping Dragons maintain an unbeaten start to the new European season – and that means producing a physical show in England.
“It’s about being in the right frame of mind to go out and really put a physical presence on the pitch,” said Baldwin.
“People like Richard Hibbard have been outstanding over the last few weeks in doing just that.
“We want to underpin our ethos on work-rate and working as hard as we can and being a team that grafts and grinds it out.
“That is the identity we want to bring to the Dragons. We want to play a fast and expansive game, but within that the non-negotiable is that we are going to work as hard as we can.
“The pitch at Sixways is good, the weather should be good, so hopefully we can really put our identity on the pitch and give the fans something to cheer about. We want to entertain just as much as we want to win.”
On facing his parent club, Baldwin expects an entertaining clash with both teams packed full of players eager to impress.
“Worcester have gone heavily EQP, but they have got a lot of good young players such as Ollie Lawrence,” he said. “They will be looking to put a marker down just as much as we are.
“When you are put into that scenario it ends up being quite a good game, because everyone has a point to prove and wants to do well.
“I’m looking forward to catching up with some old team-mates and it will be good to catch-up with some of the supporters as well.”
Baldwin has spoken about the importance of Dragons building momentum and integrating the Wales internationals back in, with the regional derby fixtures approaching fast.
“Christmas derby games in Wales are not something I’ve ever been part of, having played in the English Premiership,” he said. “It is exciting, there is definitely a buzz starting to come around.
“We are gearing up for that and you can feel the group is bubbling to make sure we are fully ready to go for that block.”
And, reflecting on his time in Newport, Baldwin admits the whole experience has been a huge positive that has helped him rediscover his enjoyment for the game.
“I absolutely love coming to work at the moment,” he smiled. “It is a really fresh, new environment for me and everyone has made me feel so welcome.
“From a personal perspective, I’m in a great mental state of mind and really enjoying myself.
“This move was about starting to enjoy my rugby again. I had a really difficult 12 months for various reasons, whether that be for not playing, and rugby can sometimes get in top of you.
“As long as I am enjoying coming to work, playing or not playing is the icing on the cake.
“Don’t get me wrong, sometimes when you are not getting picked it is difficult because it’s your job.
“But I am very happy here and enjoying training. We work hard, we train hard, but we have also had some great socials.
“Getting to know a different type of people and different brand of rugby has also been a fantastic new experience for me.”
Dragons are next in home action on Friday, December 13 when we welcome Worcester Warriors to Rodney Parade in the European Challenge Cup. Tickets are on sale NOW - click HERE to buy and take advantage of Early Bird rates.
The pitch at Sixways is good, the weather should be good, so hopefully we can really put our identity on the pitch and give the fans something to cheer about...