Dragons coach Darren Edwards relishing Perpignan clash

Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards wants his players to put down a marker in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup

Newport Gwent Dragons coach Darren Edwards has challenged his players to make the rest of European rugby sit up by beating Perpignan on Thursday night.

The Welsh region began their Amlin Cup campaign with a useful 33-3 win over Cavalieri Prato last weekend.

And Edwards is relishing the challenge the French side will pose his players at Rodney Parade.

"Why shouldn't we beat Perpignan at home? It is something we need to do," said Edwards.

"We haven't been particularly successful in European competitions in previous years and I think it is important you beat big European teams it gives you a lot of confidence.

"We recently played Wasps away and won that and there was a great feeling in the changing room, it was a great achievement for the young side

"Every game in Europe is a big deal to us and I think it will be another marker put down by this region

"I actually think it is important that we put a marker down in Europe as winning games against European teams hasn't been a strength of this region for a number of years, and it is important that we do well."

With his regional players, like Toby Faletau, making a name for themselves with Wales at the World Cup in New Zealand and with Rodney Parade having undergone a refurbishment, Edwards believes it is time the Dragons breathed some fire.

"[We are entering] a new era and it is important this squad put down their marker," he said.

But Edwards concedes Perpignan are one of the jewels of French rugby despite failing to qualify for this season's Heineken Cup.

And facing Dragons is James Hook on his first return to Wales since leaving the Ospreys at the end of the 2010-11 season to join Perpignan.

"Showing their statement of intent was signing James Hook, reportedly Wales' highest paid player," added Edwards.

"They are a big deal in France and will show us what they're all about.

"They'll have no obligation to entertain, they are coming to steamroller us and our pack will be in for a tough evening.

"We'll all have the similar mindset looking at the European Cup we've got to do well in this competition if you have ambitions for the Heineken Cup

"You have to make a statement in this competition if you're going to have any chance in the Heineken Cup the following year."

The Dragons have Lloyd Burns back for his first start since the World Cup but are without injured duo Luke Charteris and Dan Lydiate.

Team news

Newport Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; T Chavhanga; A Hughes, A Smith (capt), A Brew; J Tovey, W Evans; N Williams, L Burns, D Way, A Jones, R Sidoli, L Evans, G Thomas, T Faletau.

Replacements: R Buckley, P Price, N Buck, S Morgan, A Coombs, J Bedford, L Robling, S Jones

Perpignan: J Porical; A Plante; M Mermoz, G Hume, J Candelon; J Hook, F Cazenave; P Freshwater (capt), C Geli, B Bourrust, O Olibeau, R Tchale Watchou, G Le Corvec, J Perez, O Tonita.

Replacements: G Guirado, J Schuster, N Mas, G Britz, B Guiry, R Coetzee, D Mele, N Laharrague.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)