Lock Matthew Screech is relishing the challenge as Dragons visit ‘one of the toughest places you can go in Europe’ to tackle reigning Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster tonight (Friday).
Dragons are in Dublin this evening (kick-off 7.35pm) to face the undefeated league champions in their own backyard.
It has been an imperious start to Conference A for Leo Cullen’s dominant Leinster side, who sit just one-point shy of a perfect tally after their hard-fought 3-0 victory over Zebre in Parma.
But for Screech the prospect of playing at the RDS Arena is one that only excites him.
“I’m looking forward to going over there and testing myself in one of the toughest places you can go in Europe,” he said.
“We put a lot of wrongs right after the Connacht game. We’ve had a big emphasis on the forwards and I thought it came through.
“I thought we were dominant throughout the 80 minutes and it was a shame that we let them in for a try at the end.
“We know we need to step it up again,” he added. “Everyone knows Leinster are a very good team, especially in Dublin.
“They have a very strong squad and they pride themselves on their set piece.
“Leinster have strength in depth everywhere. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before and we expect a good performance from ourselves.”
Screech has enjoyed life under the Dean Ryan regime and believes the impact of the new Director of Dragons Rugby can be seen on the training field and pitch.
“Two wins from four is pretty good and we’ve really bought into what Dean has done with training,” he said.
“We are training harder and better than we ever have and that is only going to put us in good stead for the rest of the season.
“We are training a lot harder, a lot faster and I think the boys are feeling fitter.
“For example, Dean really puts the pressure on quite a bit in the Tuesday session and the decision-makers have to step up and lead the session a bit more.
“I feel that brings a lot out of everyone and makes the sessions really positive.”
Screech has featured in all four Guinness PRO14 games this season – and starts alongside Joe Davies tonight in Dublin.
And the 27-year-old, who has made 128 appearances for Dragons, has also revelled in the extra responsibility on him in the opening months of the season.
“Normally Cory (Hill) leads the lineout, but at the moment I’m leading the mantel and it is something I really enjoy doing,” he said.
“I guess it is extra bits, demanding that everyone knows their roles. It’s on my shoulders and I stay behind and do extra work. I’m really enjoying it and hopefully it will continue for the foreseeable future.”
I’m looking forward to going over there and testing myself in one of the toughest places you can go in Europe...