9:07am Thursday 10th April 2014
ROSS Wardle is hoping that he can return to being centre of attention in Newport Gwent Dragons' RaboDirect Pro12 run-in, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a marvellous first half of the campaign, making the most of Jack Dixon's injury misfortune to become a mainstay in the region's midfield.
Wardle, in his first full season as a professional after graduating from Cardiff University with a pharmacy degree, caught the eye with a number of impressive performances and scored a try of the season contender against Leinster when he finished off a flowing team move.
But things have stalled since the festive period and he has often been used as an impact sub or on the wing. While Wardle is happy to be a team player, he longs for a chance with 12 or 13 on his back.
He said: "After starting against Connacht in December I didn't get picked for the derbies against Cardiff Blues and since then I have played centre three times, and in one of them I was moved to the wing (after 23 minutes because of Tom Prydie's injury against Bath).
"It's been hard to get any continuity or form when you are changing all the time because you've got to get used to playing with certain people.
"I don't see myself as a winger, I never have. You've got to play there sometimes to help the team but I'm more comfortable at 12 or 13.
"There's more ball but you have the chance to do things like spot-blitzing, hitting people behind the gain line and you are a lot more involved in the game rather than being back for kicks all the time. It's a chance to get involved and be physical."
An abrasive approach is what will be needed on Saturday if the Dragons are to enjoy a first Pro12 win since upsetting Glasgow in mid-February.
They have never beaten Treviso on their own patch in the Pro12 and their hosts will come at them with their typically confrontational attitude.
"We need to front up first of all; we can't afford to get bullied," said Wardle. "The pack did well against Edinburgh and there was a big improvement in the scrum and driving lineout.
"In the backs we need to make more something of the ball they are getting. A lot of emphasis has been on the scrum (struggles) but if we are not scoring tries out wide or creating things then we can't blame the forwards."
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