THE arrival of Nick Tompkins has led to one of the Dragons’ most influential players of recent years, certainly their most influential back, being a fringe figure so far this season.

Adam Warren has been a mainstay of the side since heading east from the Scarlets in 2015, slotting in at 12, 13 and occasionally on the wing.

The 29-year-old isn’t flash but he’s incredibly effective and I’d argue that only prop Brok Harris and lock Matthew Screech can match him for value in recent seasons.

Warren has amassed 114 appearances for the Dragons but his error count is probably in double figures.

Nonetheless, the back from Burry Port has had to be patient this season, a situation that he probably saw coming on June 26.Warren fell down the pecking order as soon as it was confirmed that Tompkins would spend a season with the Dragons on loan from Saracens.

He was a replacement against the Ospreys, Bristol and Leinster, getting a combined total of 21 minutes.

He started against the Scarlets, with Tompkins shifting to inside centre, but remained in his coat against Zebre, a victim of the starters making hard work of it with their frustratingly error-strewn few minutes before half-time.

South Wales Argus:

No matter, the Test calendar means that he will remain an important figure in director of rugby Dean Ryan’s squad.

The 13 jersey is the least of his worries; in Warren he has a safe pair of hands that will ensure the drop-off from a Lions hopeful will not be too severe.

It’s his time to shine and the same will apply in four other positions in Belfast on Sunday afternoon while hooker Elliot Dee, tighthead Leon Brown and back row forwards Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty are with Wales.

It would have been five other positions before Jonah Holmes was released for game time and I would argue it would be better for all concerned if Wales players stayed in their Test bubble this autumn.

Wayne Pivac should be mirroring France, who are limiting players to three appearances this autumn under an agreement with clubs.

Rotating and using everyone would not only help his depth but it would reward individuals who have made sacrifices (albeit well renumerated ones) in spending more time in Test camp, limiting contact with their loved ones.

But if I was at the Dragons, Scarlets, Cardiff Blues or Ospreys then I would prefer the certainty of working with what you have over the next six weeks.

Ryan welcomes the return of any of his international six, they all improve his XV, but this is a long season and the management will have planned for this period.

When Brown is away, Aaron Jarvis/Lloyd Fairbrother/Chris Coleman have to step up. The same applies in midfield, on the wing, at hooker and in the back row.

Key to trying to avoid injuries is managing load and certain individuals would have been earmarked for action in this autumn Test period before the high profile players return to take centre stage in the bid to avoid Champions Cup hammerings.

Professional rugby is no longer about picking a team from scratch every Monday, there is an element of long-term planning in conjunction with updates from the medical team.

South Wales Argus:

A weakness of the PRO14 is that fixtures take place in international periods but it does at least provide an opportunity to tinker with the team and for Ryan to combat being reliant on a small group of players.

Midweek release of players presents a similar situation to those occasionally endured by Welsh Premiership coaches in normal, non-Covid seasons.

They can plan for a Saturday only to then be asked to give an outing to a regional player who is in need of minutes.

Are they better than they’ve got? They should be given that it’s their full-time job but that doesn’t make it any easier when telling the player that trains hard after work on a Tuesday and Thursday that they’ll be on the bench or even in the stands.

The same applies at the Dragons with players waiting to get their foot in the door.

The Wales six improve the side but the release of individuals has its challenges with Holmes now having one training session before the flight to Belfast and fixture at Ravenhill, then it will be back to Test camp ahead of the Six Nations finale against Scotland.

Fingers crossed he will have a big impact in his first outing at 15 but there is an argument that the Dragons would be better served by the certainty of picking from those that will definitely be around over the next six weeks.

I’m pretty confident that Warren won’t let Ryan down and the boss needs to know that the same will apply for those filling in for Dee, Brown Wainwright and Moriarty.