LLOYD Fairbrother believes he has proved himself with his strongest season with the Dragons – but the tighthead knows that he needs to finish with a flourish.

The 26-year-old Cornishman, who qualifies for Wales through his mother from Blaenavon, arrived at Rodney Parade from Exeter in 2014.

The prop has put in some big performances sporadically since heading over the bridge but 2017/18 ranks as his most consistent campaign.

He has featured in 28 of 29 games and since Leon Brown left for Wales duty in the autumn, and subsequently suffered a concussion, Fairbrother has started in 14 of 19 encounters.

"It's been my best season so far at the Dragons. I've been able to back up training performances into matches and have put in a few 80 minutes," said Fairbrother.

"I've been able to transfer what I do out on the training field onto the pitch with scrummaging and good tackles, ball carrying and work rate.

"I feel that personally I have stepped up this year and now I know what level I need to be at each week to be able to keep pushing on whereas before, I wasn't quite floating around, but I wasn't doing enough to get recognised.

"I have had some really good games and the Christmas period was pretty decent, so now it's a final push to finish off well.

"I want to finish well in the scrum, because this season it has been brilliant from where it has been in previous seasons. We are getting a bit of a reputation."

Fairbrother's fine campaign comes after a tricky start to life under new coach Bernard Jackman, who raised questions about the quality of those who were on his bench in the opening rounds of the Guinness PRO14.

"From the start of the season Bernard was very honest about where he thought I was and where I needed to be," said the tighthead.

"Each week me and Ceri (Jones, forwards coach and an ex-prop) are trying to improve the scrum, my fitness and keep on pushing on.

"I had next season (under contract), so I wasn't on borrowed time but with Brok Harris going to loosehead, I definitely needed to prove myself. I think that I have done that."

If Fairbrother continues to improve then he may just catch the eye of the Wales management, who so far this season have called on Samson Lee, Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis and Rhodri Jones.

"I'd love to be in the elite set-up with Wales – it would be a big step up but I think that I would thrive in it," he said.

"I've just got to keep on pushing with the Dragons and keep on impressing Bernard, then I might get some recognition through that. If not then my aims and goals are here."

After playing the full 80 minutes at Benetton, Fairbrother is likely to hold on to his start for Saturday's Guinness PRO14 encounter at Zebre in L'Aquila with Dan Suter his reserve.