Dragons sign Welsh-qualified English Premiership star on WRU ‘hit list’

The Dragons have signed Welsh skilled striker Sean Lonsdale from Exeter on a long-term contract.

The former RGC 1404 player, who can cover the lock and the back row, is one of many English-based exiles who have made it onto the WRU hit list in recent years.

Although born in Manchester, the 24-year-old is eligible for Wales through his mother.

He has other Welsh roots, having been educated at Rydal Penrhos School in Colwyn Bay and later playing for RGC, playing a leading role in their promotion to the Premiership in the 2015-16 campaign.

The youngster’s potential was then spotted by Exeter head coach Rob Baxter, who took him to Sandy Park in 2016 despite WRU’s efforts to keep him in Wales.

In recent years he has proved a valuable member of the Chiefs first team, providing a hard-hitting advantage as he shared in their Premiership and Champions Cup triumphs, scoring five tries in 61 appearances.

Lonsdale, who is 6ft 4in and weighs 17lbs 6lbs, will move to Rodney Parade for the start of the 2022/23 season after a six-year spell with the Chiefs.

He follows Clermont Auvergne utility full-back JJ Hanrahan, Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts and Osprey stalwart Rhodri Jones in being confirmed as new signings for the Dragons.

Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: “We are really delighted to have Sean join us ahead of next season.

“He is a young player who wants to be part of the Dragons team and take this opportunity to return to Wales and make a big impression with us.

“Sean has learned a lot during his time at Exeter and we look forward to what he can bring to our environment as we continue to build and move forward.”

After spells with Taunton and Plymouth Albion, Lonsdale made his English Premiership debut on the opening day of the 2018/19 season.

With Exeter, he won two Premiership titles as well as the European Champions Cup.

He said: “I really liked what Dean had to say about the area and I can see that suits me perfectly.

“His vision of the direction the team is taking is exciting. The region has enormous potential and I look forward to being part of it.

“It’s going to be a big change playing rugby in Wales and in the United Rugby Championship.

“It’s a very competitive league that will present new challenges, but I’m sure it will only help me grow and develop as a player.”

He added: “I am truly grateful to all the staff and players who have helped me develop over the past six years at Exeter.

“It was an incredible experience to play and train with some of the best coaches and players around, and I’m very grateful to have been in this position.”

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