WHEN Dan Babos came off the bench for the Dragons against the Cheetahs in March 2018, the scrum-half would not have thought he was set for three years on the sidelines.

The Rainbow Cup might not be setting too many pulses racing but the 21-year-old from Cwmbran will be among those giving it the thumbs up after he ended a 1,129-day wait for another crack.

In 2017 Babos was given his chance by Bernard Jackman at the age of 17 and scored a try on his debut against the Scarlets in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

He went on to make 13 appearances that season, with the hope that a taste of senior rugby would lead to him becoming a firm fixture in campaigns to come.

Instead Babos failed to make a single appearance in the next two seasons and 2020/21 has largely been spent helping with preparations at the Ystrad Mynach training base.

It was Rhodri Williams, Tavis Knoyle, Gonzalo Bertranou and occasionally on-loan Luke Baldwin that got the nod from director of rugby Dean Ryan in the Guinness PRO14 and Europe.

Babos wasn't even an unused replacement and didn't have the benefit of A team fixtures or Premiership rugby to stake a claim.

But the Rainbow Cup has led to him getting a chance off the bench against the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues.

Steff Evans of Scarlets is tackled by Dan Babos of Dragons

Steff Evans of Scarlets is tackled by Dan Babos of Dragons

His run is poised to continue against the Ospreys at Rodney Parade on Sunday with his boss hoping to see more progress by the lively scrum-half.

"The speed he can play the game at and the way he sees the game is incredible but sometimes that's not underpinned with some of the security elements that go with playing nine," said Ryan.

"We have challenged him around being able to get some of the more basic things around kicking and clearing out of our own half to be able to showcase his strengths and his speed.

"We have been able to highlight some of the things that just seem mundane rather than him just going and showcasing some of the stuff that we know he can do. This is a good window for him to learn some more."

Rhodri Williams said the arrival of Argentina scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou at the start of the year had given him a "kick up the backside" and it has also got a reaction from Babos.

"Since Gonzalo has arrived there has definitely been a change in tempo to our game and Dan has been able to see that he can contribute to that in his own way," said Ryan.

"It's been an encouraging few months for him as he strives to work his way of becoming more stable in the team."

Dragons scrum-half Dan Babos enjoyed a surprise breakthrough in 2017/18

Dragons scrum-half Dan Babos enjoyed a surprise breakthrough in 2017/18

It could be argued that Babos was given a taste of senior rugby too early in a Dragons side that was struggling, a theme of recent seasons.

Getting the right blend of youth and experience is vital for Ryan in the Rainbow Cup with the boss putting pressure on Wales internationals to lay the foundations for bright prospects.

"Without that team being stable, their ability to learn is compromised because it is almost a traumatic situation," said Ryan.

"We talk a lot about trying to create more stability and then introduce youngsters around that, then those youngsters will get a much more positive experience.

"They can reflect on the last game and challenge themselves about what they need to do better. This is very much about creating stable opportunities for the likes of Dan Babos to show what they are capable of."

The Dragons' final two Rainbow Cup games have been confirmed with a 'home' game against Glasgow on Saturday, May 29 (kick-off 7.35pm) and a trip to Leinster on Friday, June 11 (kick-off 8.15pm).

The venue for the Warriors game will be announced soon with Rodney Parade unavailable because of work on the pitch. It is unlikely to be another pilot event for the return of crowds at Welsh sport.