WHEN he used to cheer on Steve Jones and Tom Willis from the Hazell Stand, hooker Elliot Dee dreamed of playing just once for the Dragons. On Friday night the Wales forward becomes a centurion at Rodney Parade.

The 25-year-old from Newbridge will hit three figures in the European Challenge Cup encounter with Worcester, six years after he made his regional debut in the same competition against Mogliano.

There have been times when 29-times capped Dee feared his Dragons career was grinding to a halt, especially during a nightmare 2016/17 that featured three ankle operations and surgery on his nose.

When Alun Wyn Jones is told he is approaching milestones the Wales legend prefers to dismiss them, saying it's something to reflect on after hanging up the boots.

Perhaps it's the injury travails, or the fact he has been in the 90s since last October, but Dee is relishing the chance to mark the occasion.

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"I'm massively proud to get to the 100 mark. It's something I've been chasing for a few years now," said Dee, who will run out first if he gets the nod ahead of Richard Hibbard as the starter.

"Obviously I had a few injuries at the start of my career and been in and out of the Dragons environment in the last couple of years because I've been in with Wales, so it's been something I've been trying to chase.

"My dream was to play for the Dragons once and to get 100 is going to be a very proud moment for me.

"That's what you play sport for, to hit milestones and when you hit those milestones and goals you set new ones.

"It's going to be a proud moment, but at the end of the day it is another game as well and we're going out there to target the win, so it's going to be nice to run out and realise the milestone and then it's game face on."

Dee is now an inspiration for young Dragons at Rodney Parade having gone from wannabe to icon.

"I was a kid who used to sit in the Hazell Stand with my old man and dream about playing for the Dragons and my dream was always to play for them once," he said.

"Going from the academy to being a regular in the team, that's what dreams are all about, really.

"I remember watching Tom Willis, Ben Daly who was a big guy and obviously Jabba (Steve Jones) was a legend, he always used to have a good cheer.

"I always used to notice him cheating – if he threw to the back he'd stand five metres in the field!

"It was just the whole atmosphere of the ground and watching the players on the field, that's what I wanted to emulate."

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Jones, a member of the first Dragons side who racked up a then record 180 appearances, was struck by the young academy pup who came in with "a glint in his eye".

"Elliot came in at a young age and had a bit of a swagger. You knew that he had something about him," he said to the Argus in the summer ahead of the World Cup.

"He had that little something about him and wouldn't go into his shell, which was great."

READ MORE: Dee was destined to be a Wales star - Jones

That cockiness came from Dee's desire to make an impact and grasp his chance at the region.

"There is a line and maybe at the start I probably overstepped that line a bit," he said. "It was purely confidence and just wanting to do well, really; not being selfish, but sometimes not knowing when to rein yourself in.

"I can see that now with younger players coming through. It's quite refreshing to see young boys coming in and pushing to be the best they can be.

"I love that in younger players when they come in; always pushing and looking to get better."

Dee will be in the thick of it this weekend as the Dragons attempt to avenge last Saturday's 34-28 loss to Worcester in the West Midlands.

They remain top of Pool One courtesy of the fighting spirit that earned a consolation bonus point despite playing for an hour with 14 men after Taine Basham's controversial red card.

If the Dragons get revenge then they will be in a strong position to make the quarter-finals, either as group winners or one of the three best runners-up.

"We are aware that we need to get the win, that would put us in good stead for making the knockout stages," said Dee.

"It was a tough slog last week for 60 minutes with 14 men but in the past maybe if we'd gone down to 14 away from home we would have really let that game slip out of our grasp.

"It was a big plus to get that point, and it was a game we could have won. We are all raring to go for this weekend."

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Dee missed out on the knockout stages in 2015 but outplayed Hibbard in the famous quarter-final upset at Kingsholm the following year, a picture at the final whistle (above) capturing his delight.

"Historically we've done really well in this competition and we have taken confidence and seen light at the end of the tunnel from how we've gone in Europe," he said.

"It's something we are targeting again because everyone here wants to be successful and be better."