AFTER a frustrating start to the season it was nice to finally enjoy doing my pre-match routine last Saturday, but it will be even better this evening.

I was looking forward to having a run out for the Dragons Premiership Select XV against Jersey in the British & Irish Cup… and then I saw Storm Brian coming in!

But it was great to get back out there and it was job done in that I’ve proved my fitness to make my first Guinness PRO14 appearance of the season at the Ospreys tonight.

It was nice to get the boots back on and go through that familiar pre-match routine that I’d not done since the game against Cardiff Blues in May.

Having a nice breakfast, usually consisting of eggs (with soldiers, my favourite) is important and eating at a certain time so that you don’t run out with a full stomach is something that is just as vital!

I don’t do anything out of the ordinary and I don’t have a pair of lucky pants or anything like that – you could forget them one day or the bus might be a bit late to deny people the chance to do things in their ‘right’ order.

No, I just like to go with the flow and that means that nothing can play on my mind if it’s slightly off.

It was nice to play at Ystrad Mynach last weekend and I mentioned to Phil Price that it had a nice home feeling to the game because we train there on a daily basis.

The surroundings were familiar and it was especially good for me to be able to use the good facilities in the gym to get my calf and Achilles nicely warmed up.

Then it was time to run out into a monsoon and the conditions made me appreciate the 3G pitch. I think it’s fair to say that if we had been on one of the grounds around the region then the game would have been in real danger of being called off.

The torrential rain reminded me of when we played Worcester in the European Challenge Cup last year but it was the wind that makes life, and playing an attractive brand of rugby, difficult.

To be fair, Jersey’s experience and ‘body type’ told and they controlled the game much better than us, playing in the right areas and having the upper hand with their driving lineout and set piece.

It was a frustrating game but the young boys in the team will have learnt plenty from it while I managed to tick a box so that I can make my return.

The timing is good and after missing the derby at Cardiff Blues I can’t wait for tonight against the Ospreys, these are the best games of the season.

I suppose my return is quite timely because of injury crisis in the back row and perhaps it was our turn because in past years we’ve had decimation in the second rows, centres, wings.

Ollie Griffiths is the latest to be sidelined and I feel massively for him because I am sure he would have had the nod for the Wales squad.

I spoke to Ashley Smith about it, because he broke his jaw a few years back, and he said that while it was uncomfortable, it does heal pretty quickly so fingers crossed Ollie will feel good in no time.

It’s great to see that five boys did make the Wales squad, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Hallam Amos and Tyler Morgan all deserving a call up after the back of some great performances. The future is bright here on and off the field.

Let’s not forget Harri Keddie and Max Williams both rehabbing their injuries and showing the conveyor belt of quality coming through the academy is working, putting pressure on us old guys and keeping standards high.

I know that I have to take my chance to impress whether I’m slotting in at 6, 7 or 8 as I’ve had to do in the past.

Versatility is key in the modern game and I think I’ve probably been helped by being something of a Jack of all trades through the years, which means I’ve always had that ability to change roles and mindsets when needed weekly or even during a game.

Going straight into a derby at the Liberty Stadium will test my lungs but we have trained well and things have gone pretty smoothly catching up with our playbook and the lineouts.

It’s just nice to be back in the mix and we’ll go to Swansea with a positive attitude and a desire to take the game to the Ospreys.

They are a very good side and it won’t be easy but we have the intent, ability and direction now to get some victories against regional rivals.