TAVIS Knoyle is desperate to impress Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan with his appetite for improvement so that he can stay on at Rodney Parade.

The former Wales scrum-half earned a one-year contract extension from head coach Bernard Jackman in the summer of 2018 and a strong campaign as Rhodri Williams' back-up secured the same again from caretaker boss Ceri Jones in 2019.

The 29-year-old is set to feature in the Guinness PRO14 encounter with Benetton in Newport on Saturday evening (kick-off 7.35pm) in his 11th outing of the campaign.

After fearing for his rugby future after an injury-savaged 2017/8 then seeing his contract running down in the last two seasons, Knoyle is used to the uncertainty of being a professional player but it doesn't make the plight any easier.

South Wales Argus:

"I am constantly trying to do everything I can (to impress). It's a tough period of time when you are out of contract and out of work in the summer," said Knoyle, who won the last of his 11 caps against Japan in 2013.

"That's the nature of the beast and you just have to keep your head down and work hard.

"It is tough, especially when you have a family, but you can't do anything about it or dwell on it because that could take away from your game.

"I am just happy where I am at the minute, really enjoying my rugby and I am being challenged, which keeps me focused.

"Take care of the small things and then hopefully everything will take care of itself."

Knoyle has played for all four regions, had a spell with Gloucester and represented his country at the 2011 World Cup but remains as keen as ever to learn.

South Wales Argus:

"We are growing week to week and we want to get better – I don't stop asking questions," he said.

"I don't mind being shouted at and you do get praise as well. It's like any line of work, it's a good place to be when someone is a straight-shooter and you know where you stand.

"When you have your boss, whether working in the coal industry or as a professional rugby player, being straight with you then it is happy days. That's all you want.

"I've been told what I need to work on and I have gone away and worked at it. Dean is like that with everybody – he demands high standards and if you want to be in the team then you have to work hard."

South Wales Argus:

If Knoyle is involved against the Italians then he will be a key figure in what are likely to be testing conditions.

Much like Scotland and England in the Calcutta Cup rain, the Dragons and Benetton are poised to be battered by the elements, meaning plenty of responsibility on the shoulders of the half-backs.

"The weather forecast isn't too clever so we have to play the conditions," said Knoyle.

"It is very, very difficult and at Rodney Parade the wind sweeps all over the place. When you are practicing in the warm-up you try to go to different areas of the field to try and work it out.

"You have to play in the right areas in those conditions. It's not always the best rugby to watch but you don't look back at how you won, you just look at the result.

"There have been some games in difficult conditions already this season and we do want to play expansive rugby and run around, but the weather does play a big part."

The Dragons name their team at midday on Friday with Dafydd Howells likely to return at full-back after being out since November with an elbow injury.