Aneurin Owen has reflected on a whirlwind year that was capped off with a new contract extension this week – and vowed to keep working as hard as possible to take his game to the next level.
Owen only made his Dragons debut in December 2020 against Bordeaux-Begles in the Champions Cup – but he has become been a key figure since.
The 21-year-old centre has featured in 24 of 25 possible fixtures and his exploits even earned him a call up for Wales during last year's summer Tests.
Owen was rewarded for his hard work and progress this week with a new contract extension at Rodney Parade – alongside a quartet of other Dragons Academy graduates.
And the level-headed back is determined that this is just the start of his rugby story as he prepares to line up against Benetton Rugby in the European Challenge Cup this afternoon (kick-off 3.15pm UK time).
“I’m really happy and excited to stay. It is somewhere I want to be, so it was a no brainer really,” smiled Owen.
“It’s all happened so fast over the last 12 months. Probably, about a year ago, I was having doubts over whether I could step up to it and whether I could do it.
“But you get one game, you really enjoy it and learn loads. You get that excitement and it kickstarts you into it.
“This last year has gone quick and been a huge amount of fun too.
“I have learnt so much and I have been vocal about how much I learnt off the likes of Nick (Tompkins) and Jamie (Roberts).
“Playing against different teams and players, you get exposed to it all and you constantly try to take things in and see what works.
“I’m big on keep learning and getting better as a player. That is the trajectory I want to be on.
“The next step was getting game time and learning from that, I couldn’t have asked for much more over the last 12 months.”
While ambitious over his hopes in the game, Owen insists his focus remains simply on life at Rodney Parade and ensuring he is part of the match day squad.
He added: “I feel this the best place for me to keep learning and getting better, with the senior players and coaches here.
“The ambition is to keep getting in that match squad and keep putting in good performances. That is the aim, to take my game to next level and keep that consistency.
“It’s always challenging and there are things to get better – there is lots to work on.
“Whenever you make a step up there is always the physical side. The game is faster, there are more hits,” he added.
“You have less time to see the game, you have to make quicker decisions on the ball and off the ball.
“You have to move quicker into positions. You have to speed that process up. But I am enjoying every second and look forward to what the next 12 months holds.”
I’m big on keep learning and getting better as a player... That is the trajectory I want to be on.