Dragons fly-half Will Reed tipped as star of the future

Dragons fly-half Will Reed tipped as star of the future

DRAGONS backs coach Matt O’Brien is confident that young fly-half Will Reed has the mental strength to be a star of the future, writes Andrew Penman.

Reed emerged from a mixed night against Oyonnax as a winner last Saturday and he’s set to start at 10 again as the Rodney Parade region head to Pau to take on Section Paloise tomorrow.

And O’Brien, who combines his coaching role at the Dragons with playing as a fly-half or centre for Newport RFC, is encouraged by what he’s seen from the 22-year-old academy graduate.

“The great thing about Will is that he’s really resilient,” said O’Brien.

“One thing I like about him at outside-half, is that things are going to go wrong at times – we’ve all been there – and the worst thing you can do is go missing in a game. But Will continues to step up.

“Obviously, he made a few errors at the weekend, but he’s a youngster who due to injuries is playing 80 minutes every week. Perhaps he would have been managed a little bit better had we had the resources.


“He’s a great young player, he’s got lots of developing still to do, but he’s very resilient and the fact that he’ll keep stepping up even after a few knocks and a few mistakes is a real positive sign.”

Reed is not the only youngster getting a chance to shine at the moment as the head coach Dai Flanagan copes with a sizeable injury list.

Ryan Woodman, the 19-year-old back-rower, also featured against Oyonaxx and O’Brien believes the experience of playing at a tender age will benefit them going forward.

“It’s a great opportunity for the youngsters,” he said. “I’ve obviously worked with a lot of them coming through the academy over the last five or six years, and it’s great that they’re getting a chance to play.

“They’re probably playing a little bit more than we’d like in an ideal world, but we’ve got a lot of young talent in the region and it’s great that they’re getting the chance to perform at a really high level.

“The million-dollar question is whether it’s good for the youngsters to be playing every week in a side that’s perhaps not going brilliantly. Time will tell, but what we’re asking of Will he’s doing. He’s having a lot of minutes, which hopefully will benefit him in the long-term.

“Some of our best performers have been the younger guys,” added O’Brien. “They go in with no fear and it’s an unbelievable opportunity for the likes of Will and Ryan Woodman.

“Youngsters are desperate to play and they’re keen to impress.”

Only 3,057 attended the win over Oyonaxx – fewer than the average number watching Newport County AFC in League Two (3,766 so far this season).

After victories in their last two home matches, O’Brien hopes that more fans will be tempted through the turnstiles – not just for the New Year’s Day derby against Scarlets, but for the rest of the campaign. “Performances bring the crowds in and the more better performances we can have, hopefully it should have a positive effect,” he said.

“If we can perform well in the Christmas derbies, as well as having a good run in Europe, hopefully that gathers a little bit of momentum in terms of crowds.

"The more people who come to watch us the better.”

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