LAST Saturday I was in Ystrad Mynach on the morning before the Dragons’ game with Bordeaux-Begles being put through my paces along with Ollie Griffiths and Nic Cudd.

I thought back to this time last year playing Brive away when the starting back row was me, Ollie and Ed Jackson with Cuddy on the bench. Shows how quickly times do change in rugby and life.

We had over 300 appearances between us that day while the backrow last week had less than 30.

This shows how things can and have changed at the Dragons with an injury list similar to an NHS waiting room.

Others have taken their chance and stepped up when needed, so soon there will be plenty of competition for places and those boys will be all the better for the experiences and lessons from pro rugby.

Being put through an extra rehab session on a Saturday morning does bring a tear to your eye after an already tough week, but hopefully it will result in getting back out in the middle as soon as possible.

A few years ago we used to train in the ‘super shed’ in the corner of Rodney Parade next to the Bisley Stand before the game, a 'beach weights session' that Ollie would have been proud of before watching the action.

That was a good routine and hopefully being worked hard with five sessions will pay off and get as many of us available for the rest of the games in the Guinness PRO14.

It’s not an easy ride being injured and if it’s not hell then it’s purgatory for those of us who want to be out on the field rather than stuck in the gym. I've spent far too long in long-term injury group now after being in it since July.

I was aiming to be back for Worcester next week but I had a bit of a plateau around Christmas.

I am getting there though and now it’s about ticking off the boxes to get the all-clear.

Last year as long as you were running fit and could hit a few pads you got the green tick.

This season there is a slightly different ‘fun’ regime that includes wrestling up against the likes of Leon Brown, Ollie and James Thomas.

But if I can wrestle a big bloke like Leon then I will certainly be able to go into a game confident.

It’s sort of a cross between Greco-Roman and sumo wrestling.

The aim is to get ready for contact and on Tuesday I also had the joy of a boxing session that turned into around 36 minutes of pad work with the conditions. My arms were ready to drop off… I can’t wait to get back to tackling and lineout work.

For the sake of our sanity it’s good that me and Cuddy have been able to drive some of the peer feedback with the other back rowers.

The idea is to coach each other, looking at clips and identifying ways of getting better. Whether it’s James Benjamin, Taine Basham or Ollie Griffiths wearing 7, they learn from each other.

I feel it's helped Cuddy and I mentally stay sane during injury frustration at times, while I’ve also enjoyed an attached role with the Dragons Under-18s.

It went from the high of battering Cardiff Blues North in Ystrad Mynach to losing in artic conditions up at RGC 1404.

Those experiences are all part of the learning process and I like being involved to see the next generations progress.

I went from coaching the likes of Hallam Amos and James Benjamin to playing with them. There are plenty of boys who can step up in the future so it’s down to us to help as much possible to ensure the production line is as effective and efficient as it can be.