DRAGONS prospect Connor Edwards has laid down a marker for next season by turning himself into a midfield “enforcer”, says academy boss James Chapron.

The 20-year-old from Croesyceiliog made his regional debut against the Scarlets in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November and has taken his tally of appearances to nine.

With Jack Dixon out for the season because of an elbow injury, Edwards has started the last three games.

The centre, who won a solitary Wales Under-20s cap against Italy in the final fixture of last summer’s World Rugby U20 Championship, has had to bide his time for a chance.

And academy manager Chapron is thrilled that Edwards, who was given his first taste of pro rugby by Lyn Jones against Bristol in the pre-season of 2014, has made the most of his outings under head coach Bernard Jackman in the Guinness PRO14 run-in.

“I’ve always had a lot of time for Connor because he is a fantastic kid who has worked really hard and is extremely tough,” said Chapron.

“He has wanted to be a professional rugby player so badly that it hasn’t mattered what has stood in his way.

“I am really pleased that he has been given his opportunity in the second half of the season and that he has taken it with both hands.

“Jack Dixon is a quality player but Connor has at least laid his marker down.

“Since the World Rugby U20 Championship he has tried to work out what type of player he is going to be.

“Every young player goes through those patches where they learn about the game.

“He has worked that out and now wants to just be the hard, physical runner that takes the direct route to the try line, to be an enforcer in midfield.”

The Dragons finish their season against the Scarlets at Judgement Day on Saturday and 21-year-old fly-half Arwel Robson will be calling the shots.

Chapron believes the playmaker from Penallta has grown thanks to landing a trio of starts on the spin, with a former Wales and Lions ace proving to be a useful sounding board.

“I am really pleased for Arwel, he has always had potential but in the last two or three weeks has taken on a leadership role within the squad,” added Chapron.

“Gavin Henson has been excellent for him in terms of how to lead a back line and how to lead a team.

“He is still only 21, which is very young for a 10, but I am pleased that he is playing well, is confident and is injury-free.”

The Dragons’ 23-man squad for their last fixture, away to Zebre, featured 14 academy products of which eight made professional debuts this season.

A raft of prospects have been given a chance in 2017/18, many ahead of schedule before Jackman’s cavalry arrives in the summer.

Chapron said: “I am always apprehensive, almost like a distant parent with the player when I watch them play!

“We’ve had 14 debuts this season from our academy group and while the results haven’t always been fantastic, the experience they have got, along with the new signings next year, will make them stronger.

“Next year there will be more competition in the squad so we may as well give the experience to them now and then they can go back to their development programmes for the next 18 months to two years.”