Peel wary of 'dogged' Dragons as their rebuild takes shape
After spending so much of his career with the Scarlets, Ulster assistant Dwayne Peel is wholly familiar with making the trip to Newport and Rodney Parade.
With the province visiting the Dragons tonight , Peel shared his thoughts on the region who are enjoying something of a rebirth under former Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman and having been taken over by the Welsh Rugby Union.
With Lion Ross Moriarty joining next summer, and a push being made to bring in George North alongside him, there is a feel-good factor surrounding a side who have long been seen as Welsh rugby's poor relation.
While results haven't yet matched the mood - they've won just twice in the league but have played a disproportionate number of away games - Peel has been impressed by goings on at his former near-neighbours.
"Obviously the Dragons being taken over by the Welsh Union over the last couple of months has injected a bit of interest and buzz," said the former scrum-half.
situation "The signing of Moriarty is a huge signing for them. He is a Lion and a fantastic player and if they are able to get North, I'm not sure what the situation is, but it would be another good signing.
"They have invested in a lot of youth over the last couple of years and you can see it coming to the fore this year. They have mixed and matched their teams, week in and out, but when they have been at home they have relied on home form. They have a lot of young players coming through, Gavin Henson is giving them a bit of direction at 10 along with Sal Pretorious at nine, those two have led them around the park.
"They will be missing a number of Welsh internationals because Wales still have another game, but they will be tough and be dogged, especially at home."
Ulster have brought back three Irish internationals for the trip, with Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy starting, while skipper Rory Best will be on the bench.
Two of last week's three Academy debutants will get a second run out, but Aaron Hall is injured. That means Greg Jones, who came off the bench last week, is in the starting line-up this time around, with Matt Dalton again on the bench. Chris Henry is back from injury and on the bench.
DRAGONS - A O'Brien; A Hewitt, A Warren, J Dixon, J Rosser; G Henson, D Babos; B Harris, L Belcher, L Fairbrother; J Davies, M Screech; A Wainwright O Griffiths, J Benjamin. Reps: E Shipp, G Ellis, S Hobbs, R Landman, B Roach, C Davies, A Robson, P Howard.
Ulster - C Piutau; C Gilroy, T Bowe, S McCloskey, L Ludik; C Leali'ifano, P Marshall; S VD Merwe, J Andrew, R Kane; A O'Connor, K Treadwell; G Jones, S Reidy, N Timoney. Reps: R Best, C Black, A Warwick, M Dalton, C Henry, J Cooney, P Nelson, A Trimble.
- Dragons v Ulster, Live, BBC 2, 7.35
Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.