Dragons wing Rio Dyer. Pic: Getty Images.

Rio Dyer Will Set Wales On Fire . . . Dragons Pal Angus O’Brien Tips Wing To Make Huge Impact


By Graham Thomas

Angus O’Brien has backed his Dragons teammate Rio Dyer to make a huge impact in Test rugby following the wing’s call-up to the Wales squad.

O’Brien – who returned to Rodney Parade from the Scarlets this summer – first spotted the talent of Dyer when the then teenager was in the Dragons academy.

Four years on and the 22-year-old underlined the potential Wayne Pivac sees in him by scorching over for two tries against the Ospreys last weekend.

“Rio is reaping his just rewards, scoring some great tries and rightfully earning himself a Wales call up,” says O’Brien who will start at full-back for the Dragons against Zebre on Saturday evening in a match that is live on S4C.

“I’ve been really impressed with him since coming back. He was in the academy when I was first here, but he has come a long way and he has worked hard.

“He’s so exciting on the ball, I definitely think he will thrive in that Welsh shirt.”

While Dyer is one of five Dragons players in the national squad for the autumn series, O’Brien will one of those holding the fort back in Newport for the visit of the URC’s bottom-placed side.


Zebre are yet to win a game this season and they will run into a Dragons side eager to achieve back-to-back bonus point victories.

O’Brien believes the mood of optimism in the present Dragons squad – and the ability to play a high tempo, fast-paced attacking game – is in sharp contrast to the days when he left to join the Scarlets in 2018.

“It’s been great to come back, it has been a really good environment to come into,” says the former Cross Keys player, who can also operate at No.10.

“The mindset has changed. The team is more confident now, we are going out there and expecting to win, and I think that helps us a lot.

“There’s a lot of quality and depth in each position. That competition just adds to that competitive nature. Training has gone up a notch and you know you need to play well to stay in the team.

“It’s just a much more positive place now and that was personified during the game at the weekend, against Ospreys. We played some great attacking rugby, and our defence has been strong. To do at it home, it was great for the fans.”

In his first spell at the Dragons, 28-year-old O’Brien was primarily an outside-half who could operate at full-back.


Now that skillset has been reversed, with the Dragons keener to use him in the No.15 shirt, where his five URC appearances so far this season have seen him operate.

“I’m enjoying playing at full-back. I had a chat with the coaches during pre-season and it was nice to have that clarity. There’s a lot of competition at 10 and 15, so it has been good to work on specific areas of my game.

“If you play in the back three here, now, with the likes of Rio and Ashton Hewitt, you know the back three is going to be very exciting. All the guys fighting to be in that three are exciting, it is very competitive.

“All these boys want the ball in their hands, there’s a confidence around the place, and that makes my job easy.”

The Dragons have been notoriously poor at backing up victories in the past and after their only other win this season – at home to Munster – they then lost 20-19 at home in their next game against the Sharks.

But O’Brien reckons head coach Dai Flanagan has altered expectations since he stepped following the departure of Dean Ryan and there will be no slippage this weekend.

“Dai has emphasised the need to back our good performances up. Our home form has been good this season, but Zebre have a lot of threats, so we can’t take anything for granted.


“We have a very important job on the weekend, to back up last week’s performance.

“I’ve known Dai a good few years, I worked with him at the Scarlets. He wants the boys to express themselves. He brings a calmness and a confidence, which gets the best out of players.

“We need to keep building and improving and hopefully we will be able to climb up the table. We are challenging each other every day and with our squad, I think we can cause others team problems.

“Hopefully, that can happen this weekend and we can keep that winning feeling going.”


S4C – Saturday, 5.00pm: Clwb Rygbi – Dragons v Zebre

Live coverage of the URC match from Rodney Parade. English commentary available.



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