ON February 23, while Wales were preparing for part three of their Grand Slam against England, Ollie Griffiths was putting in a trademark performance for the Dragons in Treviso.

The back row forward was everywhere in a manic start to the Guinness PRO14 encounter with Benetton, one of the few players to be doing themselves justice in what turned out to be a nightmare at the Stadio di Monigo.

But on 23 minutes Griffiths was forced from the field with a ruptured bicep, an injury that would dash his already slim World Cup hopes.

The 24-year-old from Newbridge went under the knife and was sidelined when he wanted to be making an impression on Warren Gatland in the final months of the season.

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In truth, the World Cup was always going to be a long shot after consistently being overlooked despite excellence with the Dragons whether it be at blindside, openside or number eight.

But it is once again injury misfortune that has scuppered Griffiths' bid to add to his solitary cap, when he came on in the 79th minute against Tonga in the summer of 2017.

The back rower is fit again and has played a full part in pre-season training, but it's too late to be in contention for Japan unless Wales suffer a repeat of their 2015 injury crisis.

"It was difficult. I was in the squad for the summer tour two years ago and had some unfortunate injuries," said Griffiths, who suffered hip and knee problems last season after a broken jaw the previous year.

"If you look at the depth of the Wales back-row there's so many quality players. It's about getting your foot in the door and keeping it in there when you do get an opportunity.

"If you look at Aaron Wainwright, he had a chance and took it and he's probably going to be going to Japan with the World Cup squad. It's about getting that opportunity and taking it when it does come."

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His Dragons teammate Wainwright has enjoyed a remarkable rapid rise but Griffiths can look to one of the Six Nations starters for inspiration.

Josh Navidi is now cemented in Gatland's squad but he was an outsider for a long time after making his debut while the Lions were touring Australia in 2013.

His second cap came when the Lions were in New Zealand two years ago and the Cardiff Blues back row forward has grasped his chance.

"He got capped when he was quite young and then he went a good few years without any caps with the depth of the back row, which is a consistent theme," said Griffiths.

"Now he's probably going to be in the World Cup squad after a few years of being there or thereabouts.

"He took his chance how it came and he's been a regular international over the last few years. I'd love to be involved but my priority has got to be playing well and staying fit.

"If that opportunity does come then I need to make sure I'm ready to take it."

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Griffiths will be trying to impress a pair of new bosses in the coming campaign with Wayne Pivac replacing Gatland and Dean Ryan at the Rodney Parade helm.

"I get on with him," he said about the new Dragons director of rugby. "He's a straightforward guy and says it how it is which is good.

"Training has been fairly different, we've been doing a lot more rugby than we usually do in pre-season.

"I think we're going to be a team that likes to play a lot and we're structuring our training around that."

If a dynamic gameplan make the most of explosive Griffiths' talent then Pivac and his forwards coach Jonathan Humphries will have back row headaches to rival Gatland and Robin McBryde's.