BACK rower Harri Keddie hopes to get the green light to challenge the Dragons' Wales internationals for starting spots in the opening rounds of the United Rugby Championship after a pre-season hamstring injury.

The combative forward, who can play blindside, openside and number eight, had been earmarked for a starting spot in the first friendly against Leicester.

However, the 25-year-old from Llanvaches suffered a twinge in the final preparations for Welford Road and missed the clash with the Tigers and the tune-up against Wasps.

Keddie is waiting for the all-clear to return to full training but is hopeful of adding to Dean Ryan's options for the opening rounds of the URC.

The tournament gets under way against the Ospreys at Rodney Parade a week on Sunday with the derby followed by home clashes with Leinster and the Stormers either side of a trip to Connacht.

South Wales Argus: INFLUENTIAL: Dragons back rower Harri KeddieINFLUENTIAL: Dragons back rower Harri Keddie

"I've got to take it day by day, I picked up a knock before the first pre-season game and will see how it goes next week," said Keddie.

"It was nothing serious, more annoying than anything. After doing all the training in pre-season to pick it up just before the games started was frustrating but that's sport.

"You've got to get on with it, support the boys that are playing and then get back as soon as possible."

Keddie watched on while Wales internationals Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham and Ollie Griffiths plus Ben Fry, Lennon Greggains and Huw Taylor got game time.

The trio of Moriarty, Wainwright and Basham joined forces in the summer internationals while Griffiths has consistently produced Test-quality performances only to be hindered by injury.

"If I want to push on and keep playing then I have to match their performances or better them," said Keddie.

"We are pretty strong there at the minute. Whenever get a chance to play you have to make the most of it."

Keddie did that last season when he was a firm fixture in Dean Ryan's XV, showing adaptability and an impressive work rate.

South Wales Argus: GRAFTER: Harri Keddie gets through a mountain of work for the DragonsGRAFTER: Harri Keddie gets through a mountain of work for the Dragons

"Every player is different and every back row needs balance," he said. "Too much of the same thing and it can break down.

"It's finding that balance and finding your role, having 100 per cent understanding of that and executing it."

The Dragons head into the URC on the back of encouraging displays in the Midlands when denied by a late Leicester score and then fighting back for victory at Wasps.

"They were only friendlies but getting a win, whether a friendly, league or cup match, adds a bit of extra energy and helps the boys for the weeks after.

"Pre-season is there to get boys playing again but to get a result in there was an added bonus."

The Dragons have familiar opponents in the first three rounds before a first encounter against the Stormers, who have joined the European competition along with the Bulls, Sharks and Lions.

There will be a single league table with 18 regular season games with the top eight entering the play-offs.

"It's a lot different to what we are used to with the addition of the four South African teams and you only get one crack at every other team bar the other regions," said Keddie. "That makes every game really important and adds a bit extra."