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Flanagan: Pressure off returning Screech

23/11/2022

Head Coach Dai Flanagan insists the pressure is off the returning Matthew Screech – and he wants the second row to work hard but play with a smile on his face back with the Men of Gwent.

Wales international Screech has returned to Dragons as injury cover following a shoulder injury to second row Will Rowlands.

The 30-year-old needs no introduction to his team-mates having made 163 appearances for the club before his move to Cardiff.

Flanagan believes the experienced lock can be a huge asset for Dragons – but for now just wants him to enjoy his rugby and integrate himself back into the squad.

“He's been warmly accepted back into the group,” said Flanagan.

“Screechy is close mates with a lot of the players here and I think he's missed that being away.

“You can see it with his energy and his drive, since he's been back here, and it's great seeing him run around with a smile on his face.

“That's what we want, people who work hard, but can enjoy themselves along the way as well. We have got to make sure we're consistent.

“As I said after the Zebre game, we are never that bad, but we are never that good. We have just got to be us, and we have got to get better each week.”

Screech was a key member of the pack during his time at the club between 2013 and 2021 and Flanagan knows the impact he can make back at Rodney Parade.

But he added that for now he wants Screech to simply earn his place back in the team and help Dragons maintain the momentum built in the first block of fixtures.

“We don't produce many big men in Wales so the opportunity to bring Screechy back in was a no brainer for myself,” said Flanagan.

“He's got to work his way back in, like everyone else when they come into the group, but he's training his hardest every day which is great for us.

“He was a leader here, but it is important we take a bit of pressure off him. He just needs to come back and enjoy himself.

"Screechy has come back with a smile on his face, he is working hard to earn the trust he had, which won't take him long obviously because he is played over 100 games for us.

“It’s about making sure he comes in and looks after Matthew Screech for the time being and gets back to work.

“He's come here and he wants to play. But we've got big Joe Davies, who was exceptional against Zebre, Sean Lonsdale, George Nott coming back from injury pretty soon, maybe after the tour.

“We’ve got Ben Carter coming back from international duty and Huw Taylor's been excellent for us.

“You've got good players around him who are all fighting for that shirt and so it is important he puts his best foot forward.”

He was a leader here, but it is important we take a bit of pressure off him. He just needs to come back and enjoy himself...
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