From Helmand to the Heineken

Lance Sergeant Matthew Dwyer will swap the battlefields of Afghanistan for the conflicts of Heineken Cup rugby this weekend after being selected on the bench for the Ospreys in their Heineken Cup clash with Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night (KO 8.00pm).

The 27-year old Newport born hooker, who started his rugby at Pill Harriers, will step up from Bridgend Ravens for his first involvement in European rugby’s biggest tournament after Scott Baldwin was ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Dwyer has served in the Welsh Guards for the last seven years, seeing action in Bosnia and Helmand Province in Afghanistan, and has represented the British Army and Combined Services on the field, as well as being selected for the Barbarians in 2010.

He has just two Ospreys appearances to his credit so far, a late one-minute cameo off the bench of the opening day of last season against Leinster at the Liberty Stadium, and 40 minutes in Italy against Zebre last weekend.

Speaking about his call into the Ospreys squad for the European adventure, Dwyer said that he was hoping to take his opportunity well:

“I’ve always wanted to play at as high a level as I can” he said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, to be given the chance to be a part of a Heineken Cup squad. I have to make the most of any time that I get on the pitch now.

“This is the best competition that you can be involved in barring international rugby so for me to be involved with the region is amazing. I’ve come a long way since I signed for Bridgend Ravens with Steve as Head Coach there, and I was fortunate enough to be brought down here for training early last season.

“I got a brief taste of being involved for the Leinster game right at the start of last season but I was always going to the Forces World Cup, that ran in conjunction with the Rugby World Cup, but it was enough for me to think to myself that I wanted to capitalise on that experience.

“I’ve always been in and around since then but never really established myself so hopefully I can take this chance that I’ve been given. I worked hard throughout last season but it just transpired that it wasn’t my time. This year I’ve got to work hard, continue developing, and push as far as I can. Being involved in the Heineken Cup is the best incentive I could have.”

Dwyer combines his rugby training with a continuing military career, and he says the support of his permanent employer is enabling him the chance to prosper in the rugby world:

“I’m posted at Maindy Barracks on a recruitment job now that allows me to take part in full time training with the Ospreys, combining training with going out to public events to promote the Welsh Guards and hopefully recruit new soldiers.

“The Welsh Guards have been 100 per cent supportive of my rugby career, and they are very keen for me to prosper with the region and make the most of this opportunity. Hopefully, I can repay everyone’s faith in me.”