HARRI Keddie is a player that thrives in blood and thunder rugby yet the combative flanker believes it's new-found calmness that has helped establish him in the Dragons back row.

The 24-year-old from Llanvaches has been an ever-present in the Guinness PRO14 this season, making eight starts thanks to his appetite for the collisions with and without the ball.

He is the Dragons' leading carrier with 62 (11th in the PRO14) and is the top tackler with 94 (sixth in the PRO14).

Ollie Griffiths, Ross Moriarty and Taine Basham are currently sidelined by injury but even if all of the region's back rowers were fit then it wouldn't be Keddie missing out.

Dean Ryan is a big fan of the back row forward's work rate and physicality yet the former Wales Under-20s international puts his good form down to learning to relax thanks to the influence of his director of rugby.

"The biggest thing Dean's done is that he's told me to chill out a bit," said Keddie.

"I've been my own worst enemy at times by letting games get away from me just off one or two mistakes, errors that aren't massive.

South Wales Argus:

"Dean has told me to relax a bit and that it happens. Don't let it ruin your performance, keep on doing what you have been doing.

"He brings that calming influence to a lot of boys and that is important because rugby is a frantic game."

Keddie made his Dragons debut at Zebre in the final game of the 2015/16 campaign yet his progress has been stalled by injury misfortune.

Saturday's home meeting with the Ospreys will be his 70th appearance and his first full senior season is the only one in which he passed 20 games.

"I'm enjoying my rugby this season after a rough few years with injury," he admitted. "I've finally got a bit of confidence back in my body and I have been stringing games together.

"I am just trying to get better week on week, because that's what we've got to be about as a club.

"It's a tough league, especially in these Christmas derby periods when the games come fast and are physical, so it's just looking at little ways to improve.

"Maybe you can't have as much time on the training field and we have to look at things from a technical and tactical point of view."

When looking at the tape in analysis, Keddie's work rate and willingness to do the dirty work will shine through.

Other back row forwards may possess more of an X-factor – although Keddie is no slouch – but he is happy to let others shine.

South Wales Argus:

"It's just been about nailing on my job for the team. Whatever the coaches want me to do, I'll do," he said.

"We have a wide range of skills in the back row with boys who have lots of different specific skill sets.

"I've tried to make mine work rate, energy and bringing that physicality in defence, then also being involved when we get those chances to attack.

"Ollie Griffiths is great over the ball and is a powerful runner, Aaron Wainwright is a real athlete in the open field, Taine Basham is a great rugby player with the skills of a centre, then there is Ross Moriarty as well.

"There are so many different skills, so it's just about creating a point of difference."

Keddie and his teammates will attempt to avoid a derby whitewash when they entertain the Ospreys on Saturday.

After being edged out 13-12 by Cardiff Blues then 20-3 by the Scarlets, when a last-gasp score skewed the scoreboard, the Dragons are hoping for the rub of the green.

"There's not a lot in these derby games, it's little errors with indiscipline or sometimes the bounce of a ball," said Keddie.

"It's so tight and teams don't want to give an inch. There's lots to be proud of and lots to learn on for boys like Aneurin Owen and Ben Carter. These experiences are invaluable.

"It's going to be similar to the last two weeks against the Ospreys. It will be massively physical up front and they have some attacking backs in the wide channels, plus a decent kicking game.

"We've got to brush ourselves down, lick our wounds and put things right. We are nearly there and have so much good in our game but it's just about finding that next part to get over the line."