IT was a big challenge for a young Dragons side against the Scarlets last Friday but the performances of two very different forwards called Ben provided real encouragement.

It wasn’t like a normal A game given the side that they brought to Rodney Parade with Wales prop Rob Evans and a fair few old Dragons familiar faces among the first teamers in their XV.

There was plenty of youth in our team but the performance of Ben Carter in the second row was pleasing to see.

I’ve known about him through coaching the Dragons Under-18s and he was outstanding against the Scarlets; it’s only one game, so there is no danger of getting carried away, but Ben took it all in his stride.

When you are 6ft 6ins you will certainly be given the opportunity of being a regional second row, but when you have the right work ethic and attitude you have a very strong chance.

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I’ve had good lineout chats with Ben and he is very diligent but he’s also a lock who offers a big work rate and provides positive moments around the field.

He also impressed in age-grade rugby along with centre Aneurin Owen and I am sure he will be another of the academy’s success stories with a bit of nurturing and some game time.

It’s fair to say that Ben Fry in the back row is a different type of character.

He is certainly not shy and I remember when Brandon Nansen, our old massive Samoan second row, first joined us it was Ben that was trying to impose himself on him!

He’s a feisty kid and definitely has the courage and bravery that is needed in the back row, and now he is developing his game more with more match experience.

South Wales Argus:

He stood out with some outstanding contributions against the Scarlets with his defence and chop tackling reminiscent of the formidable ex-Dragon Dan Lydiate.

The back row is all about balance – you can’t chuck in three similar rugby players together – and getting the mixture of work rate, ball carriers, line out forwards and contact area kings is essential.

l The last 12 months have been incredibly frustrating for me with a bicep rupture in training which put me out until March where I was able to play in two games and then Covid hit the remaining games of the regular season.

We returned only for me to then get the calf tear which I dread and seem to have suffered every year for the past 10.

I won’t be in the mix for the next couple of Guinness PRO14 games and I’m longing to be back out on the field with the rest of the boys, not stuck in the gym among the long-term injured group, which thankfully for the team isn’t too big at the moment.

It’s fair to say that I can’t wait for 2020 to end, I’ve hardly played any minutes, and I was certainly hoping to take this opportunity to play and help out the team whilst we have a few boys absent on international duty.

My troublesome calf is okay but my hamstring has tightened up and now it’s pretty much just me and centre Tom Griffiths doing our hours of rehab together and I take my hat off to him.

After what was a pretty horrendous injury on the 4G surface a few months back in a friendly against Cardiff Blues, he is back running now.

Seeing Jordan Williams back carving up after his knee injury shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel for him.

It can be a pretty dark place and keeping motivated is one thing when not being involved for so long but it’s small wins and little targets that keeps you positive when things get really tough mentally.

I’m targeting our game against Connacht in a few weeks and can’t wait to get some consistency through game time.

It’s good for the coaches that they have plenty of boys out there on the training pitch and those battles for places will be key while the Wales boys are away.

Speaking to the boys, this season is feeling bizarre with games played behind closed doors and the challenges of travelling.

Away trips are very different to the past; A flight was chartered to Dublin a few weeks back and they will be off to Belfast on Saturday. They’ll arrive and then be pretty much locked in a hotel room until going to the ground.

These are still strange times but the boys are just happy to be back playing after the long lockdown and I can’t wait to be a part of that sometime soon.