9:02am Friday 24th January 2014
TEENAGE hooker Elliot Dee aims to give Newport Gwent Dragons fans a glimpse of the future when he goes up against Northampton at Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm).
The 19-year-old from Newbridge is poised for his first home start in the region's LV= Cup encounter with the Saints.
Dee made his Dragons debut off the bench against Mogliano in the Amlin Challenge Cup and his seven appearances since then have included tussles with the powerful European packs of Bath, Bordeaux-Begles and Munster.
Another heavyweight set of forwards are on the horizon with Northampton heading to Newport this weekend; the LV= Cup may be a development tournament but the second-string Saints side will still present a formidable test up front.
"I am really looking forward to it," said Dee. "It's nice to be back in the Dragons squad and this is going to be a great challenge.
"English teams are renowned for having big packs, a driving game and strong scrums so it should be a good contest.
"Northampton have got a fast back line but they are a big team that tries to outmuscle their opponents; they try and turn on the power game."
If Dee, who will be a leading figure in Wales' Under-20s Six Nations campaign, can stand up to the Saints onslaught then it will help his bid to climb the Dragons pecking order.
Ex-Wales hooker Rhys Thomas is established as first choice but there is a scramble to be his back-up, especially with Sam Parry set to be moving to the Ospreys.
It is a steep learning curve for a youngster in the front row but the former Coleg Gwent student is aided by a top notch mentor in iconic former Dragons hooker Steve Jones, who is the region's set piece coach.
"It's good to have somebody who has recently been on the other side of the fence," said Dee. "He understands the training load and what players are going through.
"Jabba can make you think in different ways and help out with little tips. He can communicate as a mentor and Kingsley (Jones, forwards coach) also brings in the technical side of things.
"Then there is Rhys, who is obviously still playing but carries out a similar role. He's always happy to help and it's good to have another person who you can ask questions and who helps you feel more relaxed and comfortable."
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