IT’S not just the very best players that live long in the memory, there’s more to being a favourite than being the first name on a teamsheet.

As a young Evertonian I wished that my name was Adrian (Heath) rather than Christopher and then the blue baton was passed on to another diminutive forward Tony (Cottee).

When me and my brother were taken to the County Ground by our dad after family duties in Northampton it was ‘Benji’, Ian Benjamin, who was the inspiration for goals in the garden.

It was a bit different when it came to the Tigers – the Leicester player with a kicking K on his back, Rory Underwood, was one of the very best in the world.

In the summer it was the swashbuckling Chris Lewis that excited in cricket while I wouldn’t have been the only youngster to take a shining to the antics and outfits of Andre Agassi in the days before a hairstyle that I now share.

It’s not always the cream of the crop that we are drawn to, which has made the four regions' polls for their Ultimate XVs interesting.

We’re all looking to fill time during lockdown and the Dragons have joined Cardiff Blues, the Scarlets and Ospreys in asking their fans to pick their favourites.

For the Rodney Parade region the choices have been harder in some positions than others with hooker and back row a lot tougher to select than the two props.

Yet it was nice to see the man that got the nod in the Dragons’ poll for their openside.

South Wales Argus:

It is perhaps only Nic Cudd’s immediate family that would say he is a better player than Colin Charvis or Jason Forster yet it was the breakdown specialist that got the nod.

That brought a smile to my face because I don’t think there is a player that has given more to the cause than Cudd in my time covering the Dragons.

The 31-year-old, who hasn’t played for the region since suffering ruptured knee ligaments for the third time when training in February 2019, has put his body on the line in 130 appearances.

That commitment in a frequently failing team has shone through and is prime example of why a just-for-fun XV is better when it’s not simply about the best.

There needs to be something other than just talent and the Dragons have been blessed with some players that have tremendous back stories.

Two forwards stand out for me – Lloyd Burns and Andrew Coombs.

I used to ring both of them for Premiership previews when they were captains of Cross Keys and Newport respectively.

They suffered plenty of knockbacks but stood out in the Premiership and eventually got their chances with the Dragons.

Hardman hooker Burns took his so impressively that he went from being a bricklayer to being a part of the Wales side that suffered semi-final agony at the 2011 World Cup.

South Wales Argus:

Coombs – also uncompromising but, sorry Andrew, probably not quite in Burns’ league! – followed by going from semi-pro rugby to the international scene, featuring for Wales in the 30-3 win against England that earned the famous 2013 Six Nations triumph.

There’s something great about watching players grow and grow, which is what happened with a pair of players that joined forces in the Newport midfield in 2009/10.

Pat Leach and Adam Hughes were sent to the Black and Ambers to develop and they did so impressively.

Two fine blokes, it’s a shame that both had their careers ended by injury long before boots should have been thrown in the Usk.

One man who is still playing impressively, albeit not at Rodney Parade, is Dan Evans.

The full-back has always seemed to be fighting to prove himself and with the Dragons it was after being unwanted by the Scarlets.

He was superb for two seasons only to be let go because of the arrival of Lee Byrne – a disastrous decision – and he has gone on to become an Ospreys stalwart.

Evans racked up 48 appearances for the Dragons but wing Mike Poole sadly couldn’t manage that due to injury misfortune.

South Wales Argus:

Pooley, mad as a hatter, was a player that just made you smile with his approach – and his cage fighting background showed that he was a lot tougher than his wiry frame suggested.

He scored 48 tries with Newport to earn a regional deal but sadly was limited to just one in 13 outings for the Dragons.

One man who did cross frequently was the seriously rapid Tonderai Chavhanga – perhaps the Springbok’s time at Rodney Parade didn’t live up to expectations but he provided entertainment.

There was excitement when the ball came the Zimbabwean’s way and his match-winner against Cardiff Blues and double at Edinburgh live long in the memory. His positivity was infectious.

Chavhanga made just 28 appearances over two seasons, contrasting to players whose longevity you sometimes take for granted.

Lewis Evans has amassed 232 games and that’s a record not to be sniffed at given the Dragons’ traditional strength in the back row. The stalwart has helped provide balance whether at 6, 7 or 8 since 2006.

Brok Harris, the South African who arrived as a tighthead and turned into a loosehead, is similar. Never one to grumble he is valued highly by his teammates.

He arrived soon after his compatriot Rynard Landman, an engaging character who provided some classy moments. The lock was superb at the start of his four-season Dragons career, which sadly ended rather abruptly.

Landman was a second row and I’m sure Hugh Gustafson once came on as an emergency lock against minnows Cavalieri Prato in Europe? One thing’s for sure, terrific pro Gus would have given it the same 100 per cent as he did as a loosehead and then as a hooker.

The fly-half has to be Jason Tovey, the man who got the nod in the official Dragons XV.

He’s the region’s record points scorer but probably could have achieved more and I can remember the excitement when he was first coming through. A Judgement Day winner against the Scarlets was not a bad way to sign off.

His half-back partner? Charlie Davies. Another good bloke and the man who gave us the Kingsholm moment.

But sometimes it has to just be about the best and that’s Taulupe Faletau, who was clearly going to be special when playing for Cross Keys as a teenager.

The number eight from Pontypool is THE best player the Dragons have had and among the best players I’ve ever seen.

Faletau is the one megastar in this alternative team that provided plenty of fond Dragons memories, even if it might not be an XV to rival the official one.

An alternative Ultimate Dragons XV: Dan Evans, Tonderai Chavhanga, Adam Hughes, Pat Leach, Mike Poole, Jason Tovey, Charlie Davies, Hugh Gustafson, Lloyd Burns, Brok Harris, Andrew Coombs, Rynard Landman, Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd, Taulupe Faletau.