IN A Grand Slam-winning Wales Under-20s team that featured now full international back rower Shane Lewis-Hughes, it was Dragons number eight Harri Keddie that provided the go-forward.

The prospect from Llanvaches was a shoo-in to be the next one to come through the Rodney Parade region's academy.

With Taulupe Faletau moving on, hard-carrying Keddie looked a perfect fit as his replacement at number eight.

Four years on, he is a vital player for the Dragons but in a different way to the rampaging back rower in age-grade rugby.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan is blessed for options at 6, 7 and 8 but it is telling that Keddie has started in six of the seven games since the return from lockdown.

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He might be this season's leading Dragon for carries with 36 yet it's his graft, making tackles and doing the dirty work, that has earned the praise of the management.

Keddie is happy to go under the radar to allow the likes of Ollie Griffiths and Taine Basham dazzle.

"It's just about doing your role for the team, whatever is asked of you. That is my mentality," said the 24-year-old, who has made 66 regional appearances.

"I just try and get on with my role and do my job to the best of my ability. I just want to keep getting picked every week, that's my mindset towards it.

"I've had a bit of a frustrating stop start few seasons over the last couple of years with injury. I've now got that continuity back in my game and having clear guidelines, in terms of what your role is and what is expected of you, is really important.

"You want to be judged on that - not judged on what other players abilities are. I think that's been the biggest thing I've got out of working with Dean, and the rest of the coaches have been great too.

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"As a player it gives you a clear mind going into a game, that you can just play to your strengths and you'll be judged on that."

Keddie and his Dragons teammates returned to their Ystrad Mynach training base on Wednesday after a coronavirus outbreak led to 14 days of quarantine.

Ross Moriarty and Aaron Wainwright may be away with Wales but the competition is still fierce with Ollie Griffiths leading the charge and fit-again Lewis Evans, Huw Taylor, Taine Basham and Ben Fry all in the mix.

"That's important, nobody is guaranteed a place," said Keddie.

"We speak about it quite often as a group, the importance of competition, and I think the back row we have at the minute shows that.

"If you don't play well or you're off your best one week then there is a good chance that someone will come into your position and do a better job the next week.

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"It keeps you on your toes and keeps training hard. You want to be pushed throughout the week we're all pushing each other. That's massively important.

"Players like Ben Fry have come in this season and taken that opportunity to impress. That is what we need to push us all forward.

"Over the next few months, I want to keep putting my hand up for selection, keep on getting the starts and carry on playing well.

"I think it's important we get into a winning mentality at the region now and keep on moving forward as a team.

"My role is to just keep doing my job within that to the best of my ability. It's as simple as that."