A BIG future has been predicted for Newport Gwent Dragons outside half Jason Tovey after he was voted young player of the year at the Welsh professional players awards dinner.

Tovey beat Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens to win the trophy, ironically his two rivals chosen in the Wales squad for next month’s internationals against South Africa and New Zealand whereas the Dragons player had to be content with a place among the standbys.

“Jason is a player of the future for us, and he will be for Wales and the British Lions,” predicted Dragons rugby manager Robert Beale.

“He’s a very unassuming lad who treats everyone as he would treat himself, he is a very well respected member of our squad and we are looking forward to a bright future for him.”

Head coach Paul Turner said, “Jason has got a great attitude and a good skills set. He’s very laid back and he can play all over the backline, he’s going to be a top player,” while skipper Tom Willis added, “He makes things happen for us.”

Tovey couldn’t attend the the awards dinner because of a bout of food poisoning, but will be fit to take part in training with the Wales squad next week. “The best thing was that it was voted for by the players from the other regions,” he said. “Just to be nominated was good, I only moved to 10 just after Christmas so I hadn’t expected anything like this so soon which is quite pleasing.

“I’m disappointed not to be in the squad, but pretty happy to be on the standby list. You’ve just got to get on with it and see what happens next year, I’m not going to moan or get down about it.

“I’m probably disappointed more for a player like Will Harries, I thought he’d be a banker for the squad after the way he’s been playing.

“But if someone gets injured in my position hopefully I’ll be out in New Zealand, it’s something to play for and when the autumn comes along it’ll give me another goal to work for.

“It’ll be extra motivation because maybe I didn’t do quite enough, I only moved to 10 after Christmas as I say and maybe I need a bit more experience there.”

Wales lock Luke Charteris, the senior Dragons player at the dinner, paid tribute to his teammate.

“Jason has been a quality player for a couple of years, but since Christmas when he moved to 10 he really started to shine,” he said.

“Paul and Darren Edwards have brought a lot out of him and given him some confidence. He will learn from that, he’s got a bit of magic about him, but he controls a game as well and for a forward it means so much with him putting the ball in front of us.”

The Dragons also won the team of the season award at the players’ dinner, given for exceeding expectations in a wider public arena.

It was another message for Wales coach Warren Gatland who snubbed the Dragons by ignoring them in his 27-man squad for the forthcoming three games.

“It’s disappointing for the boys,” admitted Charteris. “But as long as we keep performing we’ll get recognised. This time last year one or two players were not even on the radar but now they are being considered, so they are watching us.

“Having a small squad for the three games probably cost a few a place, but they are not far away. Three are standing by and three or four more are pushing for places.”

Dragons wing Aled Brew was nominated for the player of the year award which was won by Ospreys wing Tommy Bowe.

“I’m very happy, but it’s a bit disppointing we haven’t got anyone in the Wales squad,” Brew said. “You can only keep playing and hopefully next season we’ll have a few.”

The try of the season award went to Shane Williams for his last ditch effort for Wales against Scotland.