FORWARDS coach Ceri Jones believes promising Dragons lock Max Williams is growing as quickly at the lineout as he is physically.

The 21-year-old from Newport has come off the bench in five of six Guinness PRO14 fixtures this season and is in line for a start at Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon against Castres' big hitters in the European Challenge Cup (kick-off 3pm).

The athletic forward made his regional debut against Leinster in the opening game of 2017/18 but is now starting to make his mark at senior level.

That is partly through necessity – Wales lock Cory Hill and Samoa international Brandon Nansen are injury – but also down to Williams coming of age.

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"Max has been training extremely well and as a caller he is making progress," said Jones. "We saw in the Celtic Cup that he had a good run of games and really developed in the lineout.

"That is something that takes time, because it's a huge responsibility, but he has stepped up to the mark massively.

"Max is making physical strides as well and is filling out into a big man, which is something that takes time with front five forwards."

Williams has backed up Matthew Screech and Joe Davies in the PRO14, something that will continue while Hill (leg fracture) and Nansen (broken forearm) are sidelined.

"If you lose a player then it should be an opportunity for somebody else," said Jones.

"Rugby is a game in which you do tend to pick up injuries here, there and everywhere. That's an opportunity for the next player to step up and make their mark."

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Williams has grasped his opportunity and young props Josh Reynolds (pictured above) and Chris Coleman are also ready if needed in the front row.

Loosehead Reynolds has made four brief cameos as a replacement for Brok Harris while tighthead Coleman is backing up Leon Brown and Lloyd Fairbrother.

Former Wales prop Jones, who became a Harlequins favourite after moving from Newport RFC, is relishing the chance to push the youngsters out of their comfort zone.

"They are doing really well," said Jones. "We have done a lot of work with the two of them and are really looking to develop them.

"It's a long-term project, as it often is with props because it does take time. It's about development and them finding themselves in uncomfortable positions, because as a prop you are always under attack.

"If you are not under attack at the scrum then somebody is trying to pick you off around the field, or you have a nutritionist after you trying to pinch your skin!

"You are genuinely under attack all the time – I've been there, everyone is after you. They don't want you to have too much cheese, then next thing they are picking on you in defence, it's a nightmare!

"But it's great to see them both developing and I am really enjoying working with them."

The pair's education in the dark arts will continue in the Premiership.

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Injuries to Ryan Bevington and Aaron Jarvis mean that Reynolds has not yet featured for Newport but Coleman (pictured above) has been a regular for Ebbw Vale.

"Ebbw is a really good place for Chris," said Jones, who had a spell as forwards coach with the Steelmen. "People like Ashley Sweet, Rob Sevenoaks, Rhys Francis, Ross Jones can really help him develop that old school mentality.

"As a young prop you are under the pump and have to work out what to do next, and Chris has loads of people to help him that.

"Both Newport and Ebbw are excellent for their development and really support them, which is great to see."