DRAGONS centre Jarryd Sage believes an early move to Rodney Parade helped him get over the culture shock of swapping South Africa for European rugby.

The 23-year-old, who qualifies for Wales through his father from Newbridge, arrived from Southern Kings last autumn rather than waiting until the summer and made six appearances for Bernard Jackman's side.

Sage found the going tough in what was a chastening season for the Dragons but has made strides in the early part of 2018/19.

The South African, whose brother Dylan is an Olympic bronze medallist with the Blitzboks, has deputised for the injured Jack Dixon with outings off the bench against Leinster and Zebre then starts against Glasgow and Cardiff Blues.

Sage had to do a lot of learning, on and off the field.

"Last year it was a tough adjustment to move to European rugby and I did a bit of growing up after leaving my family in South Africa and learning how to be on my own. That was a big adjustment because I am such a family-orientated person," he said.

"I wasn't expecting it to be a massive change but it was a shock at first. Now I have settled in, I felt like I had a good pre-season and I am enjoying my rugby now, I feel comfortable.

"I went from the Lions to the Kings to here, so I had three different systems to learn and it was quite an adjustment. I feel like I have settled now and I am enjoying playing.

"Confidence is the main thing, knowing that you can start and showing the coaches that you can be [trusted] in the role.

"There was a lot of pressure on the derby but it was a hell of an experience to start. It's not every day you are in front of a full house, there was such a nice vibe.

"Cardiff Blues have a quality midfield but I thought we did really well with a nice couple of moments."

Sage, who has laid down roots in Allt-yr-yn, believes he has prospered from keeping things simple.

"It was almost a case of not over-thinking, more just doing the basics well and I have settled into the role," he said.

"Passing, catching, running, the basics! Getting over the gain line is important for us to get front-foot ball for the forwards to come around."

Sage now gets a first taste of European Challenge Cup rugby with Saturday's encounter with Timisoara Saracens (kick-off 12.30pm).

The Dragons need to get a pair of bonus-point wins against the Romanian minnows of they are to stand a chance of qualifying from a daunting group featuring heavyweights Clermont Auvergne and Northampton.

"It's nice to play against different opposition and experience a bit of travel, getting out of our comfort zone a bit," said Sage.

"I think it will be forward-orientated and if we can match their physicality then we back ourselves to take them on the outside.

"They are going to have a big pack and we have to try and turn them. We've got to get a win to build in Europe and try to get into the quarter-finals."