Simon Cross has praised the level of talent he has been working with at Dragons – as he helps prepare the region to face his former club.
Dragons make the trip to the Scottish capital in the Guinness PRO14 on Friday evening (kick-off 7.35pm) to face an Edinburgh team that needs little introduction to former Scotland Sevens ace Cross.
Cross was club captain at Edinburgh for several seasons and a key performer between 2003 and his retirement, due to persistent knee problems, in 2010.
The 38-year-old has since carved out a reputation as one of the most talented young Scottish coaches.
And the defence guru, who has been working with Dragons in the early part of this season, has spoken about his first impressions of rugby in Gwent as he helps prepares the team to face Edinburgh.
“It’s been great coming into the Dragons, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the boys here,” he said.
“I’ve coached a few Welsh lads before with my time at Worcester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but never a Welsh team.
“They are just the most coachable blokes I’ve ever coached and are a talented bunch.
“I worked with Dean (Ryan) at Worcester so I knew how he operates and he knows me, which is where the relationship works,” he added.
“It’s a pretty open environment, but it’s a challenging one for coaches and players alike.
“You are challenged to find different ways of doing things and to keep getting better.
“I think the boys are starting to see that and understand that it’s an environment where we are asking you to get the best out of yourselves and keep on improving.
“There’s as much talent here as any other side or regional team that I have coached. In some areas, probably more talent.
“It’s a tough region that reminds me of the Borders in Scotland. There’s no reason why, in two or three years, this can’t be a really good side.”
Looking ahead to Friday night’s league clash, Cross added: “Edinburgh are good side, they are well coached and they are a physical side.
“What I was really pleased about last weekend was the physicality we brought to the Leinster game. I was impressed with the physicality in particular of the front five in Dublin, I thought they were excellent.
“There were certainly areas we need to work on and one of those is making sure we get our organisation in defence right, with the right people in the right places. If you don’t do that then Edinburgh can hurt you.”
What I was really pleased about last weekend was the physicality we brought to the Leinster game. I was impressed with the physicality in particular of the front five in Dublin...