DESTRUCTIVE Wales forward Ross Moriarty is proving to be a calm and astute “natural leader” for the Dragons, believes his boss Dean Ryan.

The 27-year-old was given the responsibility of captaining the Rodney Parade in the Rainbow Cup last season and once again called the shots in the final pre-season friendly against Wasps on Sunday.

The back row forward has made his name by being confrontational, carrying hard and putting in telling blows in defence, and has had his hot-headed moments in the past.

However, director of rugby Ryan has stressed that the 48-times capped international is setting the standards on and off the field at Rodney Parade.

South Wales Argus: Ross Moriarty led the Dragons against Wasps on SundayRoss Moriarty led the Dragons against Wasps on Sunday

“I have a lot of time for Ross,” said Ryan, who was himself a no-nonsense forward in his playing days. “I’m keen to develop him in leadership, which sometimes fights against the perception people have of him.

“He’s been outstanding. When he talks, he’s very articulate and people definitely listen. He is a natural leader.

“I think people's perceptions about what leadership is are pretty varied. The reality is he’s a fantastic role model and a great example. People listen to him and he’s articulate about the game.

“I’m not sure what else you need, and I think he’s one of those people that others have opinions about based on nothing really.

“I really enjoy working with him, I’ve got a very good relationship with him, and I want to challenge him.

“Him being more impactful on the leadership front is an area we talked about a number of times.”

South Wales Argus: TOUGH: Ross Moriarty on the charge for Wales against ArgentinaTOUGH: Ross Moriarty on the charge for Wales against Argentina

Wales’ back row strength meant there was no swift return in the Six Nations for Moriarty after an ankle injury suffered on Test duty during the autumn.

However, he led the charge for the Dragons by racking up nine games in the run-in and finished the campaign by winning three summer caps against Canada and Argentina.

Ryan is keen to make sure he remains a key club figure while also thriving back on the international stage.

“He’s been outstanding for Wales and for us. We probably saw more of Ross last year than we’ve seen in a long period,” he said.

“His ability to turn up for big games consistently is second to none. He’s also very difficult to keep off the field so he’s constantly badgering me that he wants to play.

“We did a good job last year of making sure he’s out there for as many games as he can be both for Wales and for us. We intend to do the same this season.

“I want him back playing for Wales and he’s done that consistently well by playing for us. He’s become a heartbeat of what we want to do here.

“He was a peripheral personality but now he’s very much in the middle of what we want and drives what we want and drives other people to it. He’s been outstanding.”

Scrum-half Rhodri Williams has been club skipper under Ryan but the captaincy has been shared around with Jamie Roberts, Harrison Keddie, Sam Davies and Aaron Wainwright among the others to have done the role.