ROB Lewis believes Newport Gwent Dragons fans will see a totally different player to the one that left Rodney Parade in 2009 when he returns to regional rugby this season.
The 24-year-old scrum-half left London Welsh at the end of last term to pen a deal with Cardiff Blues.
Lewis, from Abergavenny, came through the Dragons academy but moved over the border after finding chances hard to come by.
After his Dragons debut in November 2007 he went on to make a total of 12 appearances, just two of them starting at number nine.
And Lewis thinks he has benefited from getting plenty of games under his belt in the uncompromising Championship.
“You just need to play at a young age and I didn’t get enough high-quality games at the Dragons,” said Lewis, who has been capped by Wales sevens.
“I was always on the bench and never really had an opportunity. That just wasn’t enough game time and I wasn’t learning or progressing like other boys that were getting it.
“I had to make the decision to go away and by going to London Welsh I saw plenty of action and my game progressed. It was the best rugby I have played and that that was solely down to getting some starts.
“Some boys make the step up (to regional rugby) straight away but I was a bit different, I had to go away to a different environment and learn my trade.”
Lewis’ time with the Dragons may have been frustrating but he has nothing but fond memories of his spell with Ebbw Vale.
He was a prominent figure for the Steelmen in the Premiership along with his twin James, a centre who has remained at London Welsh.
“Ebbw Vale was good for my development and gave me that feel of a senior environment,” he said.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club, the fans were fantastic and so were the rest of the boys. I’m a proud Ebbw Valian and reckon I will probably even finish my career there!”
First, though, he has his sights set on the battle for the Blues number 9 jersey with Wales star Lloyd Williams.
“It will be good to look at how he operates in training and what he does in games. I can learn off him and also see how close I am to the next step,” said Lewis.