AFTER playing just 72 minutes all season I have been given the all-clear to return and I am determined to impress in the seven games left.

I’ve had 12 years with the Dragons and this is by far my most frustrating season after getting injured on day three of pre-season.

I was troubled by an Achilles problem in the summer and on my return I lasted one game, tearing a pectoral muscle in the defeat against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in October.

It’s been a nightmare, but finally I got some good news on Monday while the boys who had battered bodies after last week’s battling draw with Glasgow were given a day off.

First of all I went to the Vale Resort to be put through my paces on an isokinetic machine that provided some data and measurements to show that I was good to go and then I headed to our training base in Ystrad Mynach to tick another box.

That was no easy task – I had to wrestle (our rugby-playing body builder) Ollie Griffiths.

Thankfully I got the green light and now I am set to be involved in Sunday’s Guinness PRO14 game against Benetton Treviso.

It will be great to play at Rodney Parade again for the first time since last March, my first time on the new surface, and it’s even better to be properly part of things having had a full week of training.

I’ve seen Zane Kirchner, Harrison Keddie and Sam Beard come back in recent weeks so now I’m pleased to be next in line, plus I can take confidence from the way that they have returned to action, even if their injuries have been a little bit different.

It’s going to be a tough game on Sunday and while memories of games over the years tend to all merge into one, I know that Treviso are always a spirited side who push you for the full 80 minutes.

Let’s not kid ourselves, they come to Newport with a sense that they stand a real chance against us.

I’ve played them in rain and I’ve played them in sunny conditions, it’s always a hard game and this weekend will be no different.

We’ve got to do a professional job and I think the last three performances in Newport against Bordeaux-Begles in the Challenge Cup, Worcester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Glasgow in the PRO14 have given us confidence.

We want to keep that unbeaten streak going into next week’s game with Edinburgh in Ebbw Vale but know that we have to be on our game against Benetton, who showed their quality by beating the Scarlets last week.

This game could be a defining moment for us as a squad because we want to finish the PRO14 strongly and take some momentum into next season.

It’s been a tough year with so many injuries but we don’t want to be in the same position as last summer in having to start afresh.

There are lots of new players joining next season and we want them to become a part of a positive and professional culture, rather than relying on the cavalry to arrive.

We are starting to get back to something like full strength with the injury list much shorter than it was at the start of the winter and we all have something to prove.

I know that’s the case for me personally after such a frustrating season, and for everyone involved at and supporting the region there will be much to look forward to over the next few months.