Dragons Rugby: New lock Joe Maksymiw bids to make own mark

Lock Joe Maksymiw admits it has been 'weird' joining Dragons during lockdown.

New Dragons lock Joe Maksymiw says he wants to be his own man rather than fill Cory Hill's boots.

The six foot eight second row has been signed from Connacht after the departures of Hill to Cardiff Blues and Brandon Nansen to Brive.

He made 25 appearances for the Irish side after a spell with Leicester.

Maksymiw is eligible for Wales through a grandmother from the Bala area, while he also qualifies to represent England and Ireland.

"I'm not here to fill anyone's shoes, I just want to do my own thing, work hard and be me," said Maksymiw, who made 15 appearances for Connacht in the 2019-20 season before opting for a move back over the Irish Sea.

"I love my line-outs, I like to think I'm a good line-out forward and that's my best feature, but contribute round the pitch as well. I certainly have aspirations to play for Wales but all I'm focusing on is trying to get in the Dragons team."

With the Dragons squad only including Joe Davies, Matthew Screech and Max Williams as specialist locks, Maksymiw will have a chance to make his debut in Pro14 matches against Ospreys and Scarlets when the league resumes on 22 August.

"The Dragons are clearly a region on the up if you look at the results since (director of rugby) Dean Ryan's been in, it's a place which is very ambitious and that suited me," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"It's an exciting place with a place in the Champions Cup for the first time in a whole."

Derby-born Maksymiw may qualify for three of the home nation sides, but takes his family name from a little further east.

"It's Ukrainian - I've got a lot of different heritages. My granddad was Irish, my grandma was Welsh from a little village near Bala, so we used to go there a lot as kids. My mum's side of the family had a cottage there, named after a toll-gate, so I've seen a lot of north Wales but not so much of the south."

Worcester's Baldwin extends Dragons loan

Maksymiw is sharing a house with another new signing, Wales wing Jonah Holmes, whom he knows from his Leicester days, while centre Nick Tompkins has arrived on loan from Saracens.

There has also been speculation linking Dragons with Wasps' Wales lock Will Rowlands as well as much-travelled centre Jamie Roberts.

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