IN September Lloyd Fairbrother headed to the 'truth room' at the Dragons' training base, a more private area attached to the region's open-plan office in Ystrad Mynach.

It's a simple room housing a table and a few chairs with a whiteboard on the wall featuring the Dragons' weekend schedule for the entire season.

In those early days of the Bernard Jackman era one feared that tighthead Fairbrother wouldn't be involved in too many of the games written on that board in temporary marker.

The Cornishman, who qualifies for Wales through his mother from Blaenavon, was given some harsh truths in that uninspiring room.

Chances had been given in pre-season and the prop had been called from the bench in the opening rounds of the PRO14 while Leon Brown wore 3 on his back.

Fairbrother hadn't fared particular well - in fact, Jackman fired a warning to all those individuals that had provided "negative impact" - and was told in no uncertain terms that he had to improve if he wanted to be part of the region's plans.

It proved to be something of a Damascene moment.

Fairbrother took that criticism the way that it was intended and responded, working harder in training and trying to put right the issues identified by Jackman and forwards coach Ceri Jones.

Fast forward four months and Fairbrother has cemented himself as one of the region's shoo-ins for the matchday 23 – if there was an award for the most-improved player in Welsh rugby then he would be right in the mix.

Tomorrow's Anglo-Welsh Cup fixture against Worcester presents the opportunity to give the prop a well-deserved breather, a first weekend off after featuring in all 22 fixtures so far this season.

Fairbrother is in his fourth campaign at Rodney Parade since heading over the Severn Bridge from Exeters Chiefs in the summer of 2014.

The prop has always been one of the most cheery souls at the club, always quick to offer a warm greeting.

That jolly disposition makes it impossible not to warm to Fairbrother, as does his penchant for self-deprecation that led to a Twitter handle of @cornishbarrel on which there is a profile of 'scrums, mullets and pasties'. Sadly the mullet is no longer with us.

But there have been plenty of nice blokes at the Dragons through the years, Fairbrother needed to show that he was of value to a side that wants to aim high.

In his first three campaigns in Wales the prop had enjoyed some fine moments – he was superb in the December, 2015 victory in Pau against a hefty pack – but his problem was always consistency.

Fairbrother would produce a couple of strong scrums then lose concentration and go backwards, he would slip off the odd tackle or drop a routine pass.

That was what set him apart from the ultra-consistent fellow prop Brok Harris, who has been one of the Dragons' finest overseas recruits.

But the penny seems to have dropped with Fairbrother, who has played all 22 games and started 10 of 13 since Brown was called up by Wales for the autumn internationals and then suffered a concussion.

The Cornishman's displays have been excellent and it's no exaggeration to say that Brown will have a fight on his hands for the 3 jersey when he returns in the coming weeks.

Fairbrother is scrummaging well, working hard around the field, putting in some telling tackles and, incredibly, scoring tries.

Forwards coach Jones was swift to point out on Tuesday that he once crossed nine times for Harlequins in 2003/4 but the former prop will be sweating on that record with Fairbrother currently on four (a figure only bettered by Elliot Dee's eight and Ashton Hewitt's five).

The tighthead will never look like Carl Hayman but his shape can be misleading and his conditioning work is paying off. He has put in a full 80-minute shift on five occasions this season – Bordeaux-Begles home and away, Newcastle, Northampton and Ulster.

There is no hiding place for a prop in the modern game; they not only have to be at least solid in the set piece but they must be switched on around the park to avoid being a weakness.

At the moment Fairbrother is getting all of that right and he should be the example that the Dragons management team are using for Nicky Thomas, who needs to graft hard in Ystrad Mynach to show that he deserves to be a front row contender.

At 26 and with 81 Dragons appearances to his name, Fairbrother is yet to hit his propping pomp and this campaign should fuel the prop's fire.

At the moment he may be behind Samson Lee, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis and Brown in the Wales pecking order but worse players have played on the Test scene in recent years.

The truths may not quite be as harsh for Fairbrother any more but keeping that desire for improvement will determine whether the popular prop builds on what looks like a breakthrough season.