JACOB Botica is desperate to prove that he has what it takes to be a pro after forcing his way in from the cold at the Dragons.

The 26-year-old will feature in his 13th matchday squad of the season against Enisei-STM in Newport this evening (kick-off 8pm) as the region bid for a place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

Botica has to be content with a place on the bench tonight but just being involved on game day is a relief after a nightmare first campaign at Rodney Parade following his move south from RGC 1404.

He failed to make a single appearance and looked to be on his way out last summer when a move to WRU Championship champions Pontypool was discussed.

However, Josh Lewis' pre-season knee injury opened the door and the fly-half, son of All Blacks legend Frano, earned the nod from new boss Dean Ryan.

READ MORE: Botica the glue of Dragons' attack - boss

Botica made his debut against Munster on opening weekend as a makeshift full-back and has been left out of just three matchday 23s, even if Wales fly-half Sam Davies' presence means minutes have been hard to come by.

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"I have just been grinding away in training, working on what I need to do to get in that team," said Botica, who had three seasons in the lower leagues in France before heading to Colwyn Bay.

"Working with Barry (Maddocks, backs coach) and Dean (Ryan, director of rugby) has been good this year and it's certainly helped being able to learn off Sam Davies and his experiences."

Bernard Jackman signed Botica and fellow RGC back Tiaan Loots but neither player featured last season, with the South African centre released in August to play in the USA with Houston.

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The fly-half is out of contract this summer but is grafting hard in a bid to show director of rugby Ryan that he's capable of mixing it at regional level.

"It was tough not being able to get a game last year. Mentally it was draining but I just had to put that to one side, keep training hard and help the team prepare," said Botica, who made his first start at Castres last weekend.

"On Tuesdays and Thursdays I had to train my best to put them in the best place for the weekend.

"I just wanted a chance, it was tough and every week I tried to impose myself to have the best opportunity of playing but unfortunately I never got the chance.

"But this year Dean came in and has put a game out there that suits the way that I play. He is confident in me and that has given me a lift in training, so hopefully I can put that on the field.

"I want to prove that I can play with the best out there and hopefully I will get that shot in the coming months."

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Botica is a fly-half by trade but has featured at full-back because of injuries to speedsters Jordan Williams, Will Talbot-Davies, Owen Jenkins and Dafydd Howells.

"As a 10 we are normally back there a bit under high balls, so it wasn't too different," said Botica. "It's a new position but I am loving it and it's another string to add to my bow.

"One season in France I swapped a bit to full-back but my main position is 10 and I want to pursue that, but playing 15 opens up the field a bit more.

"It's a good challenge and if Dean and Barry want me there then I will put everything into it."

Carwyn Penny, 21, makes his first Dragons start at full-back this evening with Botica likely to get a rare run out at fly-half if things are going to plan.