IT'S been a lighter training week for the boys ahead of tomorrow's European Challenge Cup game in Castres, but not because of the importance of the fixture.

We head to France looking for a win that would secure a place in the quarter-finals and give us a great shot at hosting it in Newport.

But the game comes on the back of three tough derbies that have left us with a number of bruised and battered bodies.

The workload has been reduced – less is more in these times – and that has helped the boys head to Castres in good shape for what is a massive game.

The aim is to be fit and fresh, so hopefully they can add to our famous wins at Stade Francais and Pau to earn more knockout European rugby (when I will hopefully be back in the mix for selection).

I'm integrating into training after my bicep injury and have been doing a bit of work in the sessions.

With so little time in training it's important that the team get the reps, so I've not done as much as I would like but patience is the key.

I've got to work towards a little bit of contact and fail to be back in full training in three or four weeks. Fingers crossed I will have a home Challenge Cup quarter-final to then target.

The boys have travelled to France in high spirits thanks to a derby period that contained two wins and a narrow defeat.

The Ospreys are having a tough time on and off the pitch at the moment but I think back to when they were in their pomp and they were still often one-score games against us.

The tide has turned in the past two seasons with us winning last December to end a four-year run of league derby defeats and then this time around we struck late.

The boys have shown that we are starting to become a team that can weather the storm – we did that against the Scarlets and did this again when the Ospreys were 18-13 up and pushing on our line.

Hope, resilience and belief led to us staying in it and that paid off at the end.

Pressure was put on their outside-half Luke Price throughout the game and one poor decision made the difference and we were down the other end with Adam Warren getting the winner.

It reminded me of past season, such as the New Year's Eve derby in 2012 when we were right in it until the very end when our young outside half Lewis Robling was the unfortunate one with his kick charged down by Dan Biggar for Ashley Beck to get the clincher. These games are often down to one or two key moments.

South Wales Argus:

The winner on Saturday came just after the leveller, which was scored by Rio Dyer.

It was great to see a fellow Newport High School Old Boy playing so well after a late call-up because of Ashton Hewitt's injury.

It was his first Dragons game for nearly two years and it was a brilliant performance – full of energy and attitude.

Strength in depth is what makes a team competitive throughout an entire season and having the ability to step up and deliver a performance like that is testimony to player and to the mindset of the team that is now being built at the Dragons.

It's like when we play top sides during Six Nations and the perception is that we should comfortably beat teams who are missing internationals.

It's never as easy as that against the sort of performances that they young and very keen Leinster or Glasgow 'seconds' deliver when they play in the PRO14.

Youth without fear and real enthusiasm can make games even more competitive in the contact area, making up for lack of experience with raw energy.

Rio showed that on Saturday and seeing a prospect like him play like that is massively encouraging and hopefully he can play like that consistently, like Taine Basham has since getting a similar chance.

Having the ability to drop boys in is essential, as proven with the likes of Jordan Williams, who was a key player for our attack, having a knee injury along with several other back three players.

That takes from a position of strength to a potential area of vulnerability, leaving us down to the bare bones in the back three.

These are tough times when managing a squad and I will be putting the coaching hat back on for the second half of the campaign with the Dragons Under-18s.

Being involved with the academy, specifically developing the basic skills of the boys coming through, is a great challenge while my role with NHSOB now revolves off-field matters as much as those on-field.

Being involved with the development of age-grade coaches and working with others on community projects has been an enlightening experience and hopefully has added another string to the bow.

Being considered one of the 'older guys' alongside Brok Harris, Richard Hibbard and Aaron Jarvis, using this time when injured is essential to help the with the transition to coaching starts next season.