IT’S hard to grumble for Welsh back row forwards when they miss out on Test selection.

At midday yesterday the unlucky ones, some who had already been called by boss Wayne Pivac, would have looked at the Six Nations squad.

A player can only get to that level by backing their own ability so many would have had a sense of being wronged, yet for back rowers there would also have been a grudging acknowledgement that those heading for the Vale Resort headquarters are a supremely talented bunch.

There are no 'Him? Really?' moments in that department.

Pivac and his forwards coach Jonathan Humphries plumped for just six specialist back row forwards – a quintet from the World Cup in Dragons Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Aaron Shingler plus the welcome return of the incredible Taulupe Faletau.

With such talent it remains something of a mystery why the new head coach would talk about potentially fielding Dragons lock Cory Hill at blindside, but it’s fair to say the former Scarlets boss has a sharper rugby brain than mine.

The missing talent in the back row includes the injured Ellis Jenkins, Thomas Young and James Davies, but most galling for those of us of a Dragons persuasion is the absence of Ollie Griffiths.

South Wales Argus:

The 24-year-old from Newbridge has caught the eye since starring for Wales Under-20s and when chosen to be Newport RFC’s youngest ever captain in the Premiership.

He is the complete back row forward – dynamic with ball in hand, with an appetite for graft, a high tackle count and formidable at the contact area. You can also add his leadership qualities into the mix.

It’s no exaggeration to state that even though Wainwright and Moriarty are his teammates at Rodney Parade, Griffiths would be the first name that I would put in the back row on the teamsheet, everyone else can fit around him.

Yet sadly there are two themes to any press interview with the affable forward.

Number one, what is your favourite position? (stock answer: I don’t mind, they’re all interchangeable nowadays, I just want to play and do my job for the team).

And, alas, number two, do you think you can force your way into the Wales squad by stringing together a run of games? (stock answer: I just want a bit of luck and to do well for the Dragons, everything else will take care of itself).

Griffiths’ injury record sadly cannot be ignored. Warren Gatland spoke about the importance of durability before the World Cup and the back row forward simply hasn’t built up a head of steam in recent season.

He has been excellent when on the pitch but he progress has been stalled since 2016/17 when his exploits won the Argus Dragon of the Year trophy and a first cap on the summer tour (when he disgracefully only got two minutes at the end of the win against Tonga).

Griffiths has totted up just 30 games in the campaigns since and just four fixtures this season.

His excellence led to those games sandwiching a return to the international fold off the bench against the Barbarians but he has since suffered a calf problem.

Griffiths has been hindered by injury misfortune but has the talent to be a Test star and wouldn’t look out of place alongside those that will wear 6, 7 and 8 over the coming weeks.

He will return for the Dragons soon and will no doubt stand out, yet it's quantity rather than necessarily quality that we need from a player whose class is not in question.

Please Ollie, don't rush back, get as right and niggle-free as a professional player can ever be.

This is the start of a new World Cup cycle and all it needs is a bit of luck on the injury front for the caps to flow for a incredibly talented yet desperately unfortunate player who cruelly has just two Test minutes to his name.

South Wales Argus:

WITH just 92 minutes of rugby under his belt, it’s fair to say that Luke Baldwin has been a peripheral figure for the Dragons this season.

But come 10pm on Friday the on-loan scrum-half will surely have played a vital role in ensuring that the region have a European Challenge Cup quarter-final to look forward to.

Baldwin, a Worcester player and under contract at Sixways next season, scored the vital try at the death to earn the 14-man Dragons a consolation bonus in the West Midlands after a classy chip and gather by Sam Davies.

The region backed that up the following weekend to ensure that they win the head-to-head against the Warriors, something that has put them on the brink of the quarter-finals.

It’s not going to be a totally stress-free night tomorrow – if Worcester win with a bonus and Castres gain a pair of consolations then it’s curtains – but the Dragons have put themselves in a strong position.

The Dragons got a favourable draw in the Challenge Cup – they deserved it after the shocker of Clermont and Northampton last season – but it’s their hard work that has put them in a position where they can reflect on the little moments with potentially big implications.

They started strongly against Castres on opening weekend to leave the French side pointless, did a professional job against Enisei-STM in Krasnodar, battled against Worcester a man down for an hour and then made that point count by earning revenge the following week.

One more push against the Russians and the Dragons will probably be in the last eight, helped hugely by that breakaway try when the game was lost.