WHEN Wayne Pivac and his coaches sat down to select their team for Wales' Six Nations finale against Scotland they had six Dragons players as options for their pack.

Hooker Elliot Dee, tighthead Leon Brown, lock Cory Hill and back row forwards Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright and Taine Basham have all been grafting hard with the Test squad.

Another forward, Ollie Griffiths, featured in the uncapped November fixture against the Barbarians while ex-Dragons captain Andrew Coombs, a member of the squad that won the 2013 Six Nations, spoke before the championship about how hard-working lock Matthew Screech was unlucky to miss out.

The Rodney Parade region have turned into a pretty well-drilled unit up front when their first-teamers are available, yet their coach gets little praise.

Ceri Jones is the invisible man at the Dragons, perhaps a victim of his own modesty.

The softly-spoken, affable former prop chooses his words carefully and has an appetite for self-deprecation. It's always about the player, never about the coach with Jones.

The 42-year-old farmer from Usk isn't one for the grand gesture and at times that can count against him.

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Prop Brown has made strides this season yet the tighthead's scrummaging progress has been put down in some quarters to the arrival of Olivier Azam as a coaching consultant. The tips and advice from the actual forwards coach seemingly are down the pecking order when it comes to credit.

Soon it appears we will see just how influential Jones, a Harlequins great who followed in the footsteps of his father Lyn by playing for Newport, has been.

He arrived from Worcester in the summer of 2016 but it looks as though he could be a victim of another arrival from Sixways.

At the end of February it was announced that former Wales hooker Mefin Davies, currently scrum and assistant forwards coach with the Warriors, is joining Dean Ryan's management team next season.

There has been no official confirmation about what that means for Jones but the writing appears to be on the wall, 'too many cooks' and all that.

Jones turned down Doncaster this time last year in order to stay at the Dragons, who he had guided to wins against the Ospreys and Scarlets when acting as caretaker boss.

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"I am from here and I am passionate about the region, it's about making the region better regardless of my role," he said.

Jones was interviewed for the top job only to miss out to Dean Ryan. This season shows that chairman David Buttress made the right call – it was a job for an experienced man, a director of rugby with boardroom clout rather than a head coach.

But the Dragons have reaped the rewards of Jones, who worked with Ryan at Worcester, remaining as a deputy and letting him go will be a mistake.

Professional sport is about getting the best man for the job - and this is no reflection on incoming Davies' ability - but in Jones they get the added bonus of having someone who gets this area and gets what the job entails.

'Helpful' advice about what the Dragons need will never be far away for the forwards, whether he's taking in a local rugby game or at a livestock auction.

The region have had a horrendous time of things in recent years but need to have a link to the past when plotting a brighter future.

That needs to be remembered when forming the backroom team and in the past couple of seasons there has been loss in various departments whether it be backs coach Shaun Connor, kitman Jeremy Vizard, analyst Will Precious.

If Jones joins them in heading for the exit then he deserves success wherever he ends up after doing an extremely good job at the Dragons during some testing times.

"To beat the Scarlets at Principality Stadium was really something special, as special as anything I achieved in my playing career," Jones told me at the end of season awards in 2019.

This job means plenty to Jones and he has done it excellently, even though he will want his pack to take the credit.

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NOBODY grows up dreaming of being the bloke writing about sport rather than the fella playing it.

Most of us never had anywhere near enough talent to make it as a rugby player, while many of those that do fall short when it comes to desire, hunger, application and the willingness to make personal sacrifices.

That makes it all the more frustrating when looking at an individual that has all the attributes to be a terrific player but seems to be frittering away their chance.

Heavyweight prop Nicky Thomas has yet another last chance after earning a two-year contract with the Ospreys.

I won't have been the only person to have raised an eyebrow after observing a shambolic spell at Rodney Parade.

There is clearly a player in there somewhere, that is obvious after Gloucester, the Scarlets, Dragons and Bristol have all given the 25-year-old a chance.

Coaches have all seen his scrummaging prowess and backed themselves to be the one to reap the rewards of the penny dropping when it comes to professionalism.

Yet Thomas has been a nomad, moving from club to club.

He was an awful and expensive signing by the Dragons with just eight appearances over two seasons, hindered by fitness levels that were unacceptable for a pro.

When tapping away on my laptop in the stand at Ystrad Mynach in the summer of 2018 I witnessed him working in isolation from the rest of the squad.

Thomas was being put through his paces by a member of conditioning staff before defence coach Hendre Marnitz came to try and offer encouragement.

I say this as someone who would look horrendous in a skin-tight jersey, but it was reminiscent of Celebrity Fit Club and was staggering for that level of rugby.

Thomas has earned great sums from his potential and scrummaging reputation, picking up wage packets most of us can only dream of, but it's time for the tighthead to grow up now he's back home at the Ospreys.

If there is no Damascene moment then the prop will be plagued by regrets when he hits 30.