ABRASIVE Dragons flanker Ben Fry is learning to channel his energy and aggression for the good of the team, believes his boss Dean Ryan.

The 22-year-old from Cardiff is enjoying a breakthrough season and produced a dynamic display against Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster last weekend.

The former Wales Under-20s international stood tall in the absence of back row stars Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths and Harri Keddie.

Fry made 20 tackles, won four turnovers and made 12 carries against the champions, who boasted Ireland international Jack Conan at number eight.

His display earned the praise of Andrew Coombs with the former Dragons and Wales lock, who relished playing on the edge, Tweeting: "Ben Fry is top quality. Physical as you like."

Ben Fry of Dragons is tackled by James Hume of Ulster

Ben Fry of Dragons is tackled by James Hume of Ulster

Dragons director of rugby Ryan is thrilled by the up-and-coming flanker's progress.

“Ben Fry was outstanding and his development over a short space of time in being able to harness his spikiness into positive contributions to the team has been a real credit to him," he said.

“He fully deserved the accolades that he got post-game against one of the best opponents around.”

Fry has an appetite for collisions and confrontation but Ryan, who was no stranger to that side of the game in his playing days, believes the flanker is showing a growing maturity.

“If what he does is detrimental to the team then that's not a positive impact,” said the former England forward.

“That's about maturity - you can charge around and be whatever you want but if that's not a positive impact for the team then it's no use.

“You have to channel that energy in a different way and he is only just learning to do that. Leinster was a step towards him growing in maturity around how to utilise that energy that he has got.”



Fry is sure to retain his place in the XV for Saturday’s clash with Zebre in Parma and he could be joined by the fit-again Moriarty and Keddie.

With talisman Griffiths targeting a March return from an ankle injury, Taine Basham on the comeback trail from a fractured arm and Wainwright returning for the Rainbow Cup after the Six Nations, Ryan hopes to have some selection headaches.

"Having Ross come back and Ollie being on the horizon balances everything out for good development," said Ryan. "Coming into a stable side is much better.

"Ben and Taine are still trying to find that consistency but we know what Ross and Ollie do, while Harrison is growing behind them as a more consistent performer.

"We are definitely growing some depth in the back row... I don't think I've selected a back row for 18 months, so it be interesting if they all come back at the same time."

If Keddie and Moriarty are included in the matchday 23 for Zebre along with Fry then either Huw Taylor or Dan Baker will miss out.

Number eight Baker made his debut against Leinster after signing a short-term deal.