RHYS Lawrence intends to go from hard labour on building sites to laying the foundations at the heart of the Dragons' pack.

The 32-year-old has made a swift return to Rodney Parade after a summer departure following the expiry of his contract.

With Elliot Dee away with Wales until December, Lawrence has signed a short-term deal to be another option at hooker along with Richard Hibbard and Ellis Shipp.

The Swansea-based forward was doing building work over the summer but the call from director of rugby Dean Ryan means he will shelve plans to go full-time for the third year of his sports science studies at the University of South Wales.

Lawrence returned to action in the friendly against the Scarlets last Friday and will hope to add to the 16 appearances he made after signing from Ealing Trailfinders in 2018.

South Wales Argus:

"Last season ended a bit abruptly because of coronavirus," he said. "My contract expired but I carried on training and then there was an opportunity to come in again on a short-term deal.

"I jumped at the chance, my drive to play at the top level was still there. I realise that I am fortunate to get this chance with the way that things are in the world at the moment, now it's up to me to grasp it.

"I want this to continue until at least the end of the season, so I have to make sure I am on top of my role and help the team.

"There are a few new coaches now and the intensity has definitely increased another level with the signings that have been made."

Lawrence, who had expected to have to settle for semi-professional rugby, is aware that he is third in the pecking order with Hibbard and Shipp in pole position to wear the 2 and 16 jerseys against Ulster in Belfast on Sunday.

South Wales Argus:

"'Shippy' has come on leaps and bounds," he said. "He has come back from lockdown in really good shape and is really pushing Elliot and 'Hibbs'.

"That's something that I didn't really do last year, so I have to get on top of that in this short period of time. Elliot is away with Wales and I have to put the pressure on.

"I left on good terms in the summer and saw the vision that Dean had for the Dragons, which 'Shippy' obviously fitted more than me because he's younger.

"It's really nice to see his progress – he is on the way up – and I've got to do the role that they have brought me in for to the best of my ability."