Guinness PRO12
Byrne delighted to be appointed Dragons captain
ESPN Staff
August 1, 2014
Lee Byrne has returned to regional rugby after three years in France with Clermont © Getty Images

Newport Gwent Dragons have marked the return of Lee Byrne to Welsh rugby by naming the fullback as their captain for the new season.

Byrne joined the Dragons this summer after three years in France with Top 14 heavyweights Clermont Auvergne. The former Wales international, who has signed a two-year deal with the Dragons, takes over the captaincy from Andrew Coombs to allow him to concentrate on his international career.

"It's probably one of the best pieces of news that I have ever had," Byrne said. "Throughout my rugby career I have had both highs and lows, and this for me is right up there in the highs.

"Becoming captain of the Dragons will be a massive challenge for me, but now it's time for us to make sure that we deliver as a team.

"We have been given the best of everything this season, including the squad, coaches and the new training facility.

"I want to lead by example and I hope that the youngsters can learn from my attitude and the experience that I have gained through my international career and through playing in France."

Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones said he chose Byrne, who was part of Wales' 2008 Grand Slam-winning team, because of his experience and leadership qualities.

"Lee's ability as a player is outstanding; he has great leadership skills and has a lot of experience behind him," Jones said.

"Andrew Coombs captained the side very well last season, but I feel that this is a season that I need apply change throughout which will also allow Andrew to focus on his international career."

The Dragons' Guinness PRO12 rivals Ulster announced that Ireland hooker Rory Best will captain their side this season, taking over from the retired Johann Muller.

Best has already captained the side for a four-year spell between 2007-11, but the 31-year-old now believes the extra experience he has gained leaves him in a better position to lead the province.

"It is a huge honour to captain your Province. I enjoyed doing it a few years ago but in 2011, I felt I just needed to step down and to concentrate on my game," Best said. "We also had a ready-made captain in the squad in Johann which made it easier and he did a fantastic job.

"It is nice to have been asked to do it again. With the extra experience that I have gained at provincial and international level in recent years I believe that I am more equipped than ever before to lead this group of players.

"Being the captain of Ulster is something that I absolutely love doing and I am looking forward to the challenge of the new season."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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