DRAGONS lock Ben Carter is aiming to be a big hitter as a heavyweight for Wales after turning injury woe into a positive.

The 23-year-old from Caldicot suffered a serious hamstring tear that needed surgery in the derby win against the Ospreys in mid-November.

Carter was given a four-month target for a return, and he achieved that when coming off the bench against the Bulls last weekend.

A special conditioning plan meant that the 11-times capped second row forward returned bigger – he put on six kilos and now tips the scales at 126kg, just shy of 20st.

Carter is now the same weight as former Dragons captain Will Rowlands, who used to be transformational for the pack with his size and power.

South Wales Argus: Ben Carter (right) making a tackle for the Dragons against the OspreysBen Carter (right) making a tackle for the Dragons against the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I used the injury as an opportunity to put on a bit of weight to my upper body,” said Carter, who is pushing for a start in the Good Friday fixture against Zebre in Newport.

“The coaches said that I didn’t need to do too much conditioning work – and I couldn’t run anyway because of the injury – and that allowed me to put on a bit more weight, so it has been a positive in that sense.

“I am six or seven kilos heavier than before so it’s just a case of getting used to that. I can get back fully fit with that weight then it will be great.

“It’s an extra few kilos in every collision and in the set piece. The game is getting a lot more physical and I’d like to see if I can cope with that extra weight.”

Carter missed out on the World Cup but started, and impressed until an HIA, in the uncapped fixture against the Barbarians last November.

With Warren Gatland looking to the future, the Dragons man could well be in the mix for the summer games with South Africa, Australia (twice) and Queensland Reds.

South Wales Argus: Ben Carter in action for WalesBen Carter in action for Wales

“The tour would be brilliant but my main focus is getting some results out of the remaining games [for the Dragons],” said Carter.

“I had a concussion in the Baa Baas game and then that injury so I have missed opportunities to show what I can do, but I am just pleased to be back and I’m excited by what we can do in our last six games.

“Against the Bulls we showed that we can compete with the best of the teams in the URC and every game left is of big value to us.”

Carter is coy about his Test chances but his club coach Dai Flanagan believes his lock's added physicality will help him make great strides in this World Cup cycle.

“We expect Ben to ball carry and win collisions,” said Flanagan. “Warren has spoken publicly about Wales lacking some collision and we are very confident Ben could provide that.

“Ben knows that has been his biggest work-on. His work rate is through the roof, his numbers are always top of any chart when he plays, but with this extra weight and his lean muscle we expect more positive impacts in the game.”