DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan believes Wales hopeful Aneurin Owen is getting back to his best after a pre-autumn dip in form.

The 21-year-old from Newport has been a mainstay of the XV since his debut last December, playing in 24 of 25 possible games and in all fixtures this season.

His exploits earned a training spot with the national team last summer and then a promotion to the full squad, although he didn’t win his first cap against Canada or Argentina.

Owen is a player of huge potential and his ball-playing skills are vital if the Dragons are to play the high-tempo game that Ryan says is needed to compete with more powerful rivals.

The inside centre was influential in the 41-28 defeat to Lyon in the European Challenge Cup, making 12 carries and passing nine times.

Owen joined forces with Adam Warren in the European double-header after Ryan opted to leave the more physical Jamie Roberts on the bench.

South Wales Argus: PROSPECT: Aneurin Owen on the charge for the DragonsPROSPECT: Aneurin Owen on the charge for the Dragons

“Nye was outstanding against Lyon,” said the director of rugby. “Him and Adam have been really good.

“Aneurin’s a 21-year-old and he’s out there in a big game. He is starting to flourish and we are starting to play a style that allows him to play like that.

“He probably struggled a bit pre-autumn, but giving opportunities is what we are trying to do and we are not going to shy away from that.

“It’s tough sometimes, it’s tough in the changing rooms and it’s tough when people ask questions about frustrations [after defeats].

"But there’s also some really good stuff going on. We are very pleased with Aneurin’s development and his performances.”

Owen is aiming to become the next Dragons academy product to make the step up to international rugby.

Last summer flanker Taine Basham and lock Ben Carter won their first caps against Canada and featured against Argentina before featuring again in the autumn.

“The youngsters are really growing and that is being reflected in the Wales selection, and that is really important to us,” said Ryan.

The Dragons are scheduled to host Cardiff at Rodney Parade on New Year’s Day behind closed doors in the United Rugby Championship.

Their Boxing Day fixture against the Ospreys in Swansea was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak in the hosts’ squad.