BACK-FIVE forward James Thomas hopes to reap the rewards of chasing down some serious pace merchants now that Newport Gwent Dragons are fully-focused on 15-a-side rugby.

The 6ft 3ins, 16st 7lbs lock/back row was one of the heftier players on display at the Premiership Rugby 7s.

Nonetheless, the 23-year-old from Blackwood impressed at both BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park and the Twickenham Stoop, helping the Dragons finish as runners-up to Gloucester.

Thomas, who does turn out occasionally for Carmarthen Warriors in the shortened format, hopes to benefit from blowing away the cobwebs.

"It's hard work for a big forward against some of the sharp backs but it was great to have two hit outs before pre-season games start," he said.

"It doesn't matter how much fitness you do, the first game takes it out of you and it feels like we are almost a couple of weeks ahead after having two tournaments.

"I didn't really know what to expect when I was asked to be in the sevens squad but we did really well, so hopefully those of us that played have left a positive impression on the coaching staff."

Thomas was released by the Dragons in 2011 but has earned a return on a one-season deal after catching the eye with Bedwas in the Principality Premiership.

"I'm really enjoying it," he said. "We've got a great new training facility at Ystrad Mynach and it's great to learn off the coaches and other players.

"I can't wait for the season to start now. We've got three friendlies so hopefully I'll get a run out, impress and go from there."

The Dragons face Bristol at Clifton RFC on Sunday (kick-off 3pm), travel to Lydney on Sunday, August 24 (kick-off 3pm) before hosting Aviva Premiership champions Northampton in Ebbw Vale on Friday, August 29 (kick-off 7.30pm).

They open their Guinness Pro12 campaign against Connacht in Galway on Saturday, September 6 (kick-off 5pm).