HE grew up mirroring Jamie Roberts as an inside centre and Harri Keddie is still learning to adapt long after his teenage move to the back row.

The 23-year-old from Llanvaches, most tackles, is likely to battle Roberts, most successful carries, for player of the year honours at the Dragons' end of season awards.

The duo have an appetite for the collisions and that led to a young Keddie being a budding version of the Wales and Lions powerhouse, who was then at the height of his powers during the Warren Gatland era.

"I started off as a centre then from about 16 onwards my old man told me to get in the back row and stop messing about! I didn't have many jobs other than just to run straight," said Keddie, who played at Caerleon and Newport HSOB as a youngster.

It proved to be a shrewd move with Keddie going on to be a Wales Under-20s Grand Slam winner and receiving an invite to train with Warren Gatland's Test squad.

He helped Ebbw Vale win the Welsh Premiership and then made his Dragons debut in 2016 but this season has been his most impressive yet.

TALENT: Harri Keddie in action for Ebbw Vale in their Premiership final win at Pontypridd

TALENT: Harri Keddie in action for Ebbw Vale in their Premiership final win at Pontypridd

Keddie was an abrasive and dynamic number eight/blindside coming through the ranks but now he plays across the back row thanks to his work rate and adaptability.

He wore 7 on his back last week but it's back at 6 tonight when he joins forces with Ollie Griffiths and Ross Moriarty with Dan Baker on the bench, while other leading options include X-factor players Aaron Wainwright and Taine Basham.

Competition for places had led to Keddie growing into a more all-round back rower with the ability to morph.

"It keeps you on your toes every week," said Keddie, who works closely with back row forwards turned coaches Simon Cross and Luke Narraway. "You know that you have to perform in training and constantly work on parts of your game that aren't the best.

"Whoever has come into the team this year has done well and it's your responsibility if picked to keep it going and that makes sure everyone is performing at the top of their game.

"I like playing with all the back rowers we have got, they all offer something different and you have to change your roles depending on who you are with.

INFLUENTIAL: Dragons back row forward Harri Keddie is having a fine season

INFLUENTIAL: Dragons back row forward Harri Keddie is having a fine season

"Different styles of player in the back row is important because no game is the same.

"One week might be on a heavy pitch against a physical team where you need a bigger ball-carrying number eight. The week after you could be on a dry track somewhere warm and you have to throw it around a bit more.

"It's important to be adaptable and have personnel to mix it up. From a learning point of view, it's great because you have different angles to work on because everyone is so good at different things."

That Keddie isn't currently hammering on the international door is no reflection on his talent, just the options that Wayne Pivac has at his disposal.

However, his performances won't have gone unnoticed by the Wales management and the back rower, who played alongside full caps Leon Brown, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Shane Lewis-Hughes and Owen Watkin when winning the U20 title in 2016, will just keep concentrating on his club duties.

"It's always been an aspiration of mine," he said. "It's always been in my mind that I want to play for Wales but with all of the injuries that I had I stripped it right back to maybe not setting my goals at the elite level like that straight away.

"I've stripped it back to focusing on doing things well for the Dragons and on improving parts of my game in training. Then I'll see where I can go from there."

PHYSICAL: Dragons back rower Harri Keddie on the charge against Ulster

PHYSICAL: Dragons back rower Harri Keddie on the charge against Ulster

Keddie will be to the fore against Ulster, who share his appetite for collisions.

The Irish province ran wild against the Dragons in Belfast when they led 35-3 at half-time before limiting the damage to a 40-17 defeat.

Ulster cannot catch Leinster at the top of Conference A despite losing two games all season, both to the champions.

"They are very good at what they do," said Keddie. "They maul it well, are very direct with their strike plays and very direct with their pack running around the corner.

"They have some big men coming and it's not just about standing in the right place, it's about going to meet them.

"We reflected on Belfast when we had people in the right place making tackles but it's about slowing ball down to not allow them to build momentum.

"That's where teams struggle, when top-tier European sides build through the phases and get attacking go-forward off quick rucks it's very difficult to get them under control. You've really got to be on it for the first five phases."

A strong showing against a formidable Ulster side would help show that Keddie has the talent to wear red at Principality Stadium.