OLLIE Griffiths will captain the Dragons against the Scarlets at Rodney Parade on Friday just four weeks after undergoing surgery on his jaw.

The 22-year-old Wales flanker went under the knife after receiving an illegal hit by Dmitrii Gerasimov in the European Challenge Cup win against Enisei-STM in Moscow on October 21.

That blow, labelled a “cheap shot” by Dragons boss Bernard Jackman, saw the Russian centre banned for nine weeks.

It also cost Griffiths the chance to add to the Wales cap that he won against Tonga in the summer, Warren Gatland instead turning to untested sevens specialist Sam Cross who came off the bench against Australia on Saturday.

The dynamic Dragons back row forward was initially targeting a December return but he has made a miraculously swift recovery and will lead the side out in the Anglo-Welsh Cup clash in Newport (kick-off 7.30pm).

“It’s a big boost for us and we are delighted. Thankfully it was a really clean break and the operation was very straightforward,” said head coach Jackman.

“He’s brilliant for us, top class, and we see a big future for him. He will play more international rugby and it was unfortunate [that he missed out on the autumn Tests] but over the course of his career I am sure he will benefit from someone else having that misfortune.”

Griffiths, who became the youngest captain in Newport’s history as a teenager in 2014/15, will lead a youthful Dragons side.

Scrum-half Dan Babos and loosehead Josh Reynolds are set for debuts in the XV while back row forward Taine Basham and wing Rio Dyer could feature in regional rugby for the first time.

Fly-half Arwel Robson, flanker Ben Roach and RGC 1404 triallist number eight Huw Worthington will be involved again after making their first Dragons starts in last week’s 41-7 loss to Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

“They need exposure and this is definitely a level up from the Premiership and British & Irish Cup,” said Jackman.

“Some of the scores in the Anglo-Welsh Cup are heavy but in general it’s a really good opportunity to give players a chance.

“The only way that Welsh youngsters will get to the level of the English kids is through more exposure and this competition gives us an avenue to get to that.”

The Dragons youngsters were also given a taste of the standards they will have to hit when they locked horns with Bath in a training session in Ystrad Mynach on Tuesday.

The men from the Rec, who came over the border for a feisty session in the summer, are preparing for Sunday’s Premiership clash at London Irish.

“It’s really valuable for us,” said Jackman. “Bath came fully loaded and it gives good learning for Friday night.

“It changes the whole focus and you get a lot out of the morning; intensity levels go up and you are repping defensive lineouts against live opposition.”

The Dragons name their team for the Scarlets at midday on Thursday.