Centre Ashley Smith hoping to make Dragons impact
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons centre Ashley Smith if fighting fit and planning to give Lyn Jones a midfield selection headache.
The region take a break from the RaboDirect Pro12 for LV= Cup action with a trip to the Scarlets on Friday before a home encounter with London Wasps a week on Saturday.
Teams traditionally ring the changes for the tournament and Smith, who made his Dragons debut against Worcester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2005, hopes he can make his first appearance of the season.
The 26-year-old has not featured for the Dragons this season because of a troublesome hamstring but has returned to action with Newport over the past fortnight.
He played a key role in the Black and Ambers’ crucial home win against Bridgend last weekend and hopes that it will lead to a chance to turn out in Llanelli on Friday.
Smith said: “It felt good to be out at Rodney Parade again, get the full 80 minutes under my belt, prove my fitness and get a good win as well.
“It’s been extremely frustrating because I did all the hard work in pre-season and didn’t get to do the enjoyable part of playing.
“It was eight weeks of trying to get to the bottom of what was causing the hamstring problem but we seem to be on top of it now and I can get on with the rest of the season.
“The next stage is to get back playing for the Dragons and it would be great to be involved against the Scarlets.”
Smith formed an impressive midfield partnership with the highly-promising Dragons academhy centre Tyler Morgan, whose fine start to the season will also be catching the eye of Jones and his coaches.
The Dragons suffered a midfield blow when teenage centre Jack Dixon, who had been in the reckoning for the Wales squad, suffered a foot injury that will sideline him until the new year.
That leaves them down to Ross Wardle, Pat Leach and Smith as their out-and-out centres along with fly-half/centre Lewis Robling and wing/centre Adam Hughes.
“We’re a little bit light on numbers in midfield but there is still good competition for the starting spots,” said Smith.
“It would be nice to get an opportunity to stake my claim over the next few weeks and that’s the same for lots of others in the squad; everyone wants to push for a first team place.”
Teams from Pool One take on rivals from Pool Four in the LV= Cup with the Dragons hosting Northampton and travelling to Newcastle in January after their Scarlets and Wasps encounters.
They will be battling with Gloucester, London Irish and Saracens for a place in the semi-finals.
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