Gerard Beale has barely picked up a Steeden since his arrival at the Dragons, but his presence has already done wonders for the team’s outlook.
Signed on a three-year deal with the club in April, 22-year-old Beale is exceeding the hype during his first preseason at the club.
Experienced centre Matt Cooper has noticed strong parallels between Beale and the club’s previous specialist fullback, 2010 Clive Churchill Medal winner Darius Boyd.
‘‘I’m excited to play with Gerard Beale, I think he’s going to be great for us,’’ Cooper said.
‘‘He’s impressed me at training so far and he reminds me a little bit of Darius. Just in the way he plays – he’s fit, he’s strong, he’s fast and he’s got skill – all the attributes that Darius had.
‘‘Hopefully he has a good pre-season with us. He’s training really well with us at the moment, and hopefully he nails it and does a good job for us.’’
Boyd, whose chiming in from fullback gave the Dragons attack a winning edge between 2009 and 2011, left a deep void when he departed the club for Newcastle this year.
The Dragons struggled to find their groove in attack during 2012 as a result, but Beale’s arrival has undone much of that frustration.
‘‘Gerard coming down is a great thing,’’ five-eighth Jamie Soward said. ‘‘He’s obviously a specialist fullback and that’s something that we probably missed a little bit last year, even though Jase and Brett did fantastic jobs at the back.
‘‘Gerard’s fitting in really well and we’ve also got a lot of young, under-20s blokes who are looking to make the next step up into first grade and create an opportunity.’’
Beale’s posting at fullback will leave Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale to concentrate on bolstering the edges and restoring some continuity to the side’s line-up.
‘‘He’s an international and he knows what he’s got to do to fit in,’’ Morris said.
‘‘He’s training hard and ticking all the boxes at the moment.
‘‘All the blokes that are training with us in the pre-season are having a big dig and it will be interesting come next year, when the spots are on the line, who’s going to take them.’’