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Maksymiw aiming high at Dragons

24/07/2020

New recruit Joe Maksymiw firmly believes Dragons are ‘on the up’ - as the giant lock bids to fly high at Rodney Parade.

The Welsh-qualified second row has started training at the region after his move from Connacht and has been impressed by his new surroundings.

The 24-year-old - who is 6ft 8in and weighs 18st and 2lbs – arrived with plenty of pedigree having featured for Leicester Tigers before two seasons in Galway.

And the lineout ace insists his move to Dragons has already been justified as he bids to make his mark for Dean Ryan’s men.

“The Dragons are clearly a region on the up if you look at the results since Dean Ryan's been in, it's a place which is very ambitious and that suited me," said Maksymiw, who made 15 appearances for Connacht in the 2019/20 season.

"It's an exciting place with a potential place in the Champions Cup next season for the first time in a while for the region."

Maksymiw acknowledges he will have plenty of competition for a place in the second row.

However, he is determined to focus purely on his own game and not look to replace former players.

“I'm not here to fill anyone's shoes,” he said. “I just want to do my own thing, work hard for myself and be me.

“My focus is on trying to get into the team. There is a lot of competition here with (Matthew) Screech, big Joe (Davies) and Max (Williams) so it’s about working hard to show what I am about.

"Matthew and Joe both played loads last year and were consistent performers. If they are in that spot then it's my job to get in there.

"I've got to prove myself to get an opportunity and get my head down. Nothing comes easy, if they are in pole position then it's my job to move them and the only way to do that is through hard work."

"I love my lineouts, that's my best feature," he said. "I've been in embedded in it, especially coming through Leicester's academy where there is a huge set piece focus.

"I feel confident to run a lineout and did a lot of that in my second year at Connacht, where my old forwards coach Jim Duffy empowered me and helped me.

“I certainly have aspirations to play for Wales, but all I'm focusing on now is trying to get in the Dragons team."

Derby-born Maksymiw gets his unusual surname from his Ukrainian heritage and revealed the move to Wales has also sparked childhood memories.

“My grandma was Welsh from a little village near Bala - we used to go there a lot as kids,” he admitted.

“My mum's side of the family had a cottage there, named after a toll-gate, so I've seen a lot of north Wales but not so much of the south.”

And while his start to life at Dragons has been unusual - given social distancing and a new-look training regime – Maksymiw is now just eager to get back out on the field.

“I met with some of the coaching staff before lockdown, but meeting the rest of the squad has been a bit of a weird one,” he laughed.

“I’ve moved in with Jonah (Holmes) because we knew each other from our Leicester days.

“But the first few weeks of training I only got to know the small group I was in because of social bubbles.

“Now we are just looking forward to playing next month,” he added.

“The local derbies seem intense and they always where over in Ireland so it is a great way to kick-off.

"Everyone is in good nick and kept themselves sane during lockdown. It will just be good to get out on the pitch again and get the ball in my hands."

My focus is on trying to get into the team.... There is a lot of competition here... it’s about working hard to show what I am about...
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