IT was Newport RFC head coach Sven Cronk that first recognised Ollie Griffiths' leadership credentials in 2014 and the back row forward intends to be a vocal figure as the Dragons plot an upturn in fortunes.

Five years ago Griffiths became the youngest captain in the Black and Ambers' rich history after being picked for the job ahead of several seasoned campaigners.

"We felt that we needed someone who leads with action rather than words and Ollie is involved in everything on the field," said Newport hall-of-famer Cronk about the then 19-year-old.

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Griffiths went on to skipper Wales Under-20s and has led the Dragons, both officially and unofficially.

Now 24, the once-capped back rower will play an important leadership role in the absence of Cory Hill and the World Cup hopefuls as the Rodney Parade region strive for better times under the direction of new boss Dean Ryan.

"I've been here a long time now, I've been playing for the Dragons since I was 19 and I've been playing a leadership role," said Griffiths.

"We've got leaders dotted throughout the team, so it's good the way things are going at the moment.

"When you become comfortable around all your teammates and you're playing regularly and you've been in the set-up for a while, it just comes naturally to speak. But I'd like to think I lead by example rather than speaking all the time.

"I speak when I need to. When you're comfortable and it's a close group, which I think we've got now, it's easy to speak and discuss things even give criticism when it's needed.

"It helps everyone get better."

Griffiths frequently leads the charge with ball in hand and the explosive back rower hopes to keep flourishing under Ryan.

The ex-England forward was appointed as director of rugby this summer and the long pre-season has allowed the Dragons to hatch plans for the Guinness PRO14.

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"We've started from scratch. We've started to get the foundations in place and he wanted to see what sort of excites us about playing," said Griffiths.

"He wanted to get a feel for the boys when he first came in and what sort of style we want to play – everyone said we want to play a fast and exciting game.

"Last year, you were more likely to see towards the end of the game that we were more likely to throw the offload when the game was gone. That's when we looked at our most dangerous.

"It's about getting the balance right between playing and being conservative and keeping hold of possession. That's what we've been talking about lately."

Griffiths is frequently asked what position he prefers and the answer is always the same – it makes no difference whether it's 6, 7 or 8 on his back.

Settling in one role doesn't appear to be on the cards just yet under Ryan.

"We briefly spoke about whether I'm going to be playing seven or eight," he said. "It's still early doors and it all depends what our back-row is going to be looking like and what he wants from certain games.

"To be honest it doesn't make much difference to me. I quite like scrummaging at number eight, because I get to run off the back with the ball quite a lot which I enjoy.

"But there's not a massive amount of difference now between seven and eight. I feel like I can switch back and forth from week to week.

"It doesn't make a massive amount of difference for me and the coaches can see that as well."