OLLIE Griffiths’ hopes of forcing his way into Wales’ World Cup plans have been dealt a hammer blow after the Dragons back row forward suffered a season-ending injury.

The 23-year-old from Newbridge was forced off in the opening stages of the 57-7 humiliation at the hands of Benetton in Treviso last weekend.

Griffiths ruptured a bicep and will now sit out the remaining five rounds of the Guinness PRO14, denying him the chance to give Wales boss Warren Gatland another back row headache.

The explosive forward, who can play blindside, openside or number eight, was already up against it after being overlooked for the autumn internationals, despite his fine October form, and Six Nations.

READ MORE: Griffiths - I respect Gatland's decision but I'll keep knocking on Wales door

Griffiths, who was capped against Tonga in the summer of 2017, retained hope of forcing his way into the pre-Japan 2019 training squad by shining for the Dragons in the run-in but will now be sidelined.

South Wales Argus: TALISMAN: The Dragons will be without Ollie GriffithsTALISMAN: The Dragons will be without Ollie Griffiths

It is his third blow of the season after hip injury in the autumn suffered against Northampton and a knee injury at the start of December, also against the Saints.

READ MORE: 'Freak' Griffiths can be a Wales star - Jackson

“For me it is just about concentrating on playing well and hopefully I will get that chance,” said Griffiths about his Test hopes at the start of the month.

“I have just got to make sure, if and when I do get the chance, I am ready to take the opportunity.

“Obviously I back myself to play at that level. As a player if you don’t back yourself nobody is going to. At the same time, I do realise the competition there.

“I just want that chance to show what I can do. I can’t fault the players who are playing for Wales, they are playing really well.

“I want to be playing for Wales. That is my ultimate goal and to do that I need to be playing consistently well and staying fit.”

Griffiths' absence also leaves the Rodney Parade region down to the bare bones in the back row because openside Nic Cudd has ruptured knee ligaments and the versatile James Benjamin also came off in the first half in Treviso with a neck injury.

South Wales Argus: INJURY BLOW: James Benjamin is out of Sunday's game with UlsterINJURY BLOW: James Benjamin is out of Sunday's game with Ulster

The Wales Sevens international will sit out Sunday’s PRO14 clash with Ulster in Newport and is targeting the trip to the Ospreys at the end of the month.

The Dragons are already without Ross Moriarty and Aaron Wainwright because of Six Nations duty while promising blindside Ben Fry, who made his senior debut against Timisoara Saracens in January, is absent with a shoulder injury.

Lewis Evans, who has been moved to lock this season, suffered a blow at Benetton and is a doubt for this weekend, leaving caretaker head coach Ceri Jones seriously short of options.

Harrison Keddie has been in good form at blindside and Taine Basham was released from the Wales Under-20s squad for the Six Nations to feature as a replacement in Treviso.

His international teammate Lennon Greggains is another option along with flanker Huw Taylor, who has appeared 11 times this season after signing from Worcester.

Back row forward James Sheekey, who made seven outings last season after arriving from Cardiff RFC, will not play this season because of a hip injury.

The Dragons will still be without loosehead Ryan Bevington for Sunday's fixture, which is their last of the season at Rodney Parade.

The former Wales prop has not played since suffering a concussion in the win against the Ospreys at the end of December.

Brok Harris has been backed up by on-loan Scarlet Rhys Fawcett for the last three fixtures.