Rising star Aneurin Owen admits he has enjoyed every second of the step up to senior rugby at Dragons this season.
Highly-rated centre Owen has been mixed it with the first team squad this season, as part of the Senior Academy ranks, and has caught the eye with his enthusiasm, willingness to learn and impressive skill set.
The 19-year-old – who recently featured for Wales Under-20s in the Six Nations campaign – has spoken about the positive atmosphere under Director of Dragons Rugby, Dean Ryan.
And he is now eager to prove his worth in the long-term and achieve his aims of first team rugby at a region he has since getting a Season Ticket aged ten.
“I started with the senior team back in September and I’ve really enjoyed getting used to that environment and being around a different set of boys,” he said.
“There are a lot of great players there, a lot of very good coaches, and as long as I’m improving week on week then I’m happy.
“I want to keep challenging myself against better players and over a period of months you do become a better player in that environment.
“You want to keep adding those one per cents on and that means each training session, each week. You slowly become a better player and then you can make that step up.
“When you train with the seniors I don’t think lots changes, in terms of skills or technique. But you have to make your decisions a lot quicker and your speed into position has got to be spot on,” he added.
“All those little aspects off the ball, that is what makes the difference.
“Your communication needs to go up a level because everything happens a lot quicker at this level.”
Owen admits he has enjoyed working first-hand with Ryan in the set-up this season.
And as he looks to make his way in the game, he revealed it is another Englishman who also provides playing inspiration on the field.
He said: “Dean (Ryan) has been class. He is an experienced guy, he knows his stuff and he has been great looking to get us all moving forward.
“The message across the board, to all the players, has been how you perform in training will reflect on whether you get a chance to play. He has been totally honest with everyone - that is all you can ask for.
“Every week we’ve looked to improve, every week people are enjoying it and every week we are being challenged and trying to get better. It has been a really good place to learn and develop.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Dragons,” he added. “I was ten when I got a Season Ticket and always supported them during my time with the Academy. It’s where I want to play.
“When I was growing up it was always players like Jason Tovey and Ashley Smith that you would look up to as a centre.
“Today I look at people like Owen Farrell and how he drives a team and constantly produces performances. He is someone to look towards.”
The message across the board, to all the players, has been how you perform in training will reflect on whether you get a chance to play...