BOSS Dean Ryan believes that missing out on the Wales squad can help Taine Basham become a growing influence at the Dragons.

The dynamic 20-year-old from Talywain was called up twice by Wayne Pivac last season but has not been included for the six autumn Tests.

Wales have been forced to name two injury replacements but it was the Scarlets’ James Davies and Cardiff Blues’ Shane Lewis-Hughes that got the nod.

Ryan thinks it could be a blessing in disguise for his back rower with Basham able to keep racking up the minutes, starting at Ulster in the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

The director of rugby has challenged Basham to be a leading figure in the absence of international stars Ross Moriarty and Aaron Wainwright.

South Wales Argus:

“Quite often in international squads they know who the 27 or 28 players are and they have five or six free hits to look at,” said Ryan.

“When that is a youngster it is a difficult challenge, because they are incredibly excited to be around the national squad and what they can learn.

“But the challenge is being in and out of the squad, it can be a little bit bumpy with how they regulate themselves through the weeks.

“They get less training because they are moving between camps all the time, so this is an opportunity for Taine to settle in with week in, week out performances.

“It is always more difficult when people know more about you, and certainly Taine is on the radar, but this is a chance to really grow some influence in the game.”

Basham isn’t the only young flanker who is making an impression; Ben Fry had a strong start to the campaign and the abrasive flanker will get more chances in the Test period.

“I am really happy with Ben’s progress,” said Ryan. “With Aaron and Ross being away the opportunity does come for our back rowers and we have to ensure we have that pipeline well stocked.

South Wales Argus:

“Ben is really starting to influence games. Look at the Scarlets game and he really stood out even though it was against a pretty senior Scarlets side.

“He is growing more and more, understanding when to influence a game and when to ensure that his job is done right. He is progressing nicely.

“It’s great that Ross and Aaron go into camp. Now is the time for the others to get a run of five or six games under their belts.”

Basham and Fry are joined as back row options by Ollie Griffiths, who is fit again after a hamstring injury.

They will be asked to lead the charge against an uncompromising Ulster side who have beaten Benetton and the Ospreys.

"They are a really robust side during the international window," said Ryan. "They are incredibly physical.

"Some of their overseas signings are very, very influential in their game and, even though there are no crowds, Ulster are strong at home.

"We have had challenges of high quality teams in recent weeks against Leinster and Bristol. We have learnt about playing at that level, and how to try and stay at that level for longer.

"We were frustrated by our performance against Zebre because we had an opportunity to really push on but we still don’t have the maturity to do that. This weekend will be another test against a really physical outfit."

The teams are named at midday.