The late great Matthew J Watkins has been selected at outside-centre for the Dragons Ultimate XV, with the 18 capped Welsh international gaining almost half of the vote in the doopoll vote.
Watkins finished well clear of the other rivals for the jersey, which included two of the current squad’s specialists Adam Warren and Tyler Morgan along with favourites from years past Percy Montgomery, Hal Luscombe and Adam Hughes.
Montgomery will stake another claim for inclusion in the Ultimate XV in Friday’s full back poll, whilst by popular demand both Luscombe and Hughes merit inclusion in the short list for today’s final wing position.
Watkins, who won 18 caps for Wales between 2003 and 2006 as a creative and silky-skilled centre, began his professional career with Newport RFC and was a hugely popular figure with fans, team-mates and staff alike at Rodney Parade.
Born in Newport, Watkins began playing youth rugby with Newbridge and Pontllanfraith, before going professional with Newport RFC in 1997. He spent five years with the club between 1997 and 2002, making 118 appearances before joining Llanelli. He was then part of the Llanelli Scarlets team at the dawn of regional rugby in Wales in 2003.
In 2007 MJ had become only the third player to reach 100 appearances for the Scarlets. At the end of the 2007-08 season Watkins signed for English Premiership side Gloucester. Watkins spent just one season in England before returning home to Wales and to the place where his professional rugby career began, in Newport. Watkins signed a two-year deal with the Dragons where he made 25 appearances in his two seasons at Rodney Parade.
Matthew’s experience, leadership and talent was a great asset to the Dragons team before his retirement from the sport in 2011 and those skills and performances is what has earned him a place in the Dragons Ultimate XV at outside-centre.