Ross Moriarty: Wales back-row to join Dragons from Gloucester

Ross Moriarty
Ross Moriarty is the son of former Wales dual-code international Paul and nephew of Wales' 1987 World Cup captain Richard

Wales back-row Ross Moriarty will join Dragons from Gloucester for the 2018-19 season on a two-year contract.

The 23-year-old British and Irish Lions forward will be Dragons' first marquee signing under coach Bernard Jackman.

"After meeting with Bernard Jackman, I was excited by the future plans of the club as the region looks to begin a new chapter in its history," Moriarty said.

Moriarty's move was made necessary by a new Wales selection policy and follows team-mate George North's return home.

North will return to Wales on a dual contract although it is not yet known which of the four Welsh regions the Lions winger will join.

Dragons make big statement

Jackman, who joined Dragons in the summer, told BBC Wales Sport that Moriarty's arrival shows the region's ambition on the field.

"When I got the job I was pretty clear that the Dragons hadn't been in the market for, I suppose, a world class player for the last couple of years," he said.

"Signing a guy like Ross Moriarty, who was probably one of the most sought-after players who was off contract in June, is a real statement in terms of where we want to bring this region.

"Speaking to other coaches over the weekend when we'd got the signature they realised that the Dragons are definitely on the up when we're bringing in players of that quality and hopefully some more will follow and we can be a team that's competing at the top end of the table rather than the bottom."

Asked specifically about North, Jackman replied: "We'll definitely want to speak to George, he's obviously world class. But at the moment the news on that is obviously we'd like him, similar to all four teams in Wales."

Selection policy prompts move

Ross Moriarty
Ross Moriarty was tipped to make the Lions Test side before suffering a back injury in New Zealand

Moriarty, who has 17 caps, was keen to return to Wales next season following a change in the Welsh Rugby Union's selection policy that means players taking up new contracts outwith a Welsh region must have won 60 caps to be eligible to play for their country.

The back-rower was exempt for this season because of his existing contract with Gloucester, but would have become ineligible to play for Warren Gatland's side if he signed a new deal with the Cherry and Whites - or any other club outside Wales.

"Playing international rugby is the pinnacle of every player's career and with the new rules, it left me with no choice but to move to Wales to further my international ambitions, especially with the Rugby World Cup ahead," Moriarty added.

"I would like to thank Gloucester, specifically the players and coaching staff, for their continued support throughout my seven years at the club as well as Hartpury College, who provided me with the foundations to achieve my goals.

"Furthermore, I would like to thank the fans for their continued support. They have made the decision to move to Wales extremely difficult.

"I am now looking forward to finishing the season off strongly and teaming up with Bernard Jackman and the Dragons at the start of next season."

Moriarty's imminent arrival at Rodney Parade is also a boost for the WRU, which took control of the Newport-based team in the summer of 2017.

He joins fellow Wales players Elliot Dee and Leon Brown, as well as home-grown talent Jack Dixon, in committing their futures to the Dragons.

Moriarty made his Wales debut against Ireland in August 2015 and his form in the 2017 Six Nations earned him a place on the summer's Lions tour to New Zealand.

A back injury ended his tour early and while he returned on 4 November in an Anglo-Welsh Cup game against Leicester, he suffered a fresh blow in training and is again on the sidelines.

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