LIAM Belcher says the bar has been set extremely high by Wales hopeful Elliot Dee but the Dragons new boy is desperate to grasp his first chance at Newcastle this weekend.

The 21-year-old arrived at Rodney Parade this summer from Cardiff Blues but is yet to feature for Bernard Jackman’s side.

That is poised to change on Saturday afternoon when Belcher, an unused replacement against his former region at the Arms Park last Friday, plays against the Falcons in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick-off 3pm).

Belcher has had to be patient because of a pre-season quad injury and the stunning early form shown by Dee to get back on the Wales radar.

“He has been outstanding. He has been really good and everyone is seeing that,” said the new boy, who is battling with Gerard Ellis, Rhys Buckley and Ellis Shipp to be number two in the pecking order.

“I will try and hit those standards but he has set really high to be fair, all I can do is my best. Elliot was outstanding at Cardiff Blues so I can make no bones about not coming on.”

Belcher is trying to impress head coach Bernard Jackman but it was old boss Kingsley Jones who signed the hooker after his release from the Blues, who he played for five times in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

“I was released by the Blues and was playing for Ponty at the end of the year when luckily I got picked up after Kingsley saw me,” said Belcher. “I met him, saw the environment and was really happy.

“I was looking at work and probably staying semi-pro with Pontypridd and then the chance came about – you can’t turn that down.

“My old man is a builder and I probably would have worked with him doing some coaching locally.”

“You find it with loads of boys,” he continued. “There are some who don’t play 20s that push on at regional level, others like Leon (Brown, Dragons tighthead) who kick on as well and then others like me who can fall away. You just try to keep working hard to get a crack.

“It’s just down to the depth chart – you could come out of the 20s and be first choice but unfortunately for me the Blues had really good hookers.

“Luckily I’ve come here and I am really enjoying it. It’s a second chance and that’s all you can ask for, fingers crossed I make the most of it.”

Jones may have headed for the exit with Jackman taking the reins but the mantra is the same for Belcher as he aims to make his mark in Newcastle.

“Bernard is still new here and we are all new to him, especially the ones who haven’t featured yet,” he said. “We do really need to make an impression.

“Everyone wants to show what we can do and if it’s your first game, like it is mine, you just want to try and prove a point. You want to stick your hand up and show what you are about.

“Any English team, no matter what level it is, will come with a big scrum, big driving maul and a big pack of forwards. As an eight it’s a big game for us to put a marker down.”

And if Belcher does produce the goods at Kingston Park then he’ll get a pat on the back rather than a lecture from Rhys Thomas, the former Wales hooker who is now part of Jackman’s management team.

“He’s a good bloke and easy to speak to,” said Belcher. “To be fair he is properly intense if you are doing something wrong and if you are doing something right you get a pat on the back.

“All you want is honesty and all the coaches here give you that.”