ELLIOT Dee has pledged he won't hold back for the Dragons in a bid to protect his World Cup dreams after going through the pain barrier to be part of Wales' Grand Slam success.

The hooker is travelling to South Africa as a member of the Rodney Parade region's squad for the Guinness PRO14 double-header against the Kings and Cheetahs.

The Dragons don't have the play-offs or Champions Cup qualification to play for but Dee doesn't want to be wrapped in cotton wool in the build-up to Japan 2019, despite suffering a blow in the final Six Nations clash against Ireland.

The 25-year-old from Newbridge came on for Lions hooker Ken Owens on the hour with the score at 22-0 and victory in the bag.

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"All day I was thinking about going on and executing, doing my role and helping the team in a tight game. I felt with the weather it was going to be tighter than it was but it was a brilliant experience to get out there for 20 minutes," said Dee, who has won 18 caps since his debut in November, 2017.

"Unfortunately I had 19 minutes with a popped rib cartilage but with the adrenalin of the occasion there was no way that I was coming off that field.

"It was the first scrum on their five-metre line, when we were binding up I could feel it popping in and out. It was quite sore but there was no way I was coming off that field.

"I just got on with it, forgot about the pain and enjoyed every moment of a great occasion that I will look back on for a long time."

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Dee is odds-on to make Warren Gatland's squad for Japan as back-up to Owens after featuring in the matchday squads in the last 18 Tests (only failing to feature against Australia last November when he was an unused replacement).

But the front-rower knows that his efforts for the Dragons in their remaining fixtures against the Kings on Sunday, Cheetahs and Scarlets at Judgement Day are still important to stay in Gatland and forwards coach Robin McBryde's good books.

"I have a job to do here and there are no guarantees of going [to Japan]. You are only as good as your last game and have to perform well to get noticed and get selected," he said.

"That's what my focus is now, I couldn't play against the Ospreys [because of the rib injury] and I was gutted about that because I wanted to get back in and get some game time.

"I am now looking to start again over the next few weeks and build my performances."

"It's my home region, I am proud to play for the Dragons and all the other Wales boys feel the same."

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Dee and fellow Six Nations squad members Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright, Hallam Amos and Leon Brown will be key figures in the final month as the Dragons attempt to finish another disappointing season on a high.

Prime target is tasting victory on the road in the PRO14 for the first time since March, 2015 to end the embarrassing streak of 42 losses.

"We are focusing on finishing the season strongly, we have talked about looking for that away win and we are targeting both these games in South Africa," said Dee.

"We have been looking for it for a long time now and want to get the monkey off our back. We are strong enough and have the mindset to go out there and do a job.

"It would be nice to go into next season with that confidence, because when rugby is a confidence sport. Once you are winning it is hard to lose and sometimes when you are losing it is hard to get that bounce of the ball.

"There have been encouraging signs since Christmas and there are three winnable games to finish the season strongly."