Back row ace Taine Basham believes he is the ‘best environment’ at Dragons to continue his eye-catching development – as he counts down the days to his anticipated playing return.
Highly-rated Basham – who played nine games last season – is determined to continue his rise to prominence this season at Rodney Parade.
The 19-year-old was named the Young Player of the Season at the region’s end of season awards after an all-action second half of the campaign.
However, Basham is refusing to get carried away by the plaudits and instead has targeted learning from his peers.
“I know this is the best environment for me to be in,” said Basham. “If I was at other clubs I don’t know what game time I would have had. I’m pleased with how it’s all gone.
“I’m a Gwent boy who is playing in Gwent so I am very happy here.
“We’ve got internationals like Aaron (Wainwright) and Ross (Moriarty) and then top players like (Harri) Keddie and Ollie (Griffiths). Just to learn off them, to be around them day-to-day, is huge.
“They have more experience than me so you’re always looking to learn off them. Then hopefully you can get a playing shirt alongside them.
“Hopefully as soon as I get back out on that pitch I can show Dean (Ryan) what I can do and look to impress.
“I don’t know if he has seen me play, buy hopefully I can get a chance early on this season and if I’m called upon I’m ready to go.
“It’s nice to get the positive comments about last season, but my feet are firmly on the ground, I’m not getting carried away,” he added.
“It was a big honour to get the award for Young Player of the Year and be recognised.
“You look at past players who have won it, the likes of Aaron Wainwright, and that just shows you the path to follow.”
Basham is currently finalising his recovery from a hand operation that saw him ruled out of Wales Under-20s action this summer.
“Unfortunately I injured my hand a week after Judgement Day, when I was training against South Africa for Wales Under-20s,” he said.
“The operation went well, I’ve rehabbed and now I’m coming to the time when I can get back out there and get flying into it.
“I was really disappointed to miss the World Junior Under-20s Championships in Argentina,” he added. “I wanted a big end to the season for Wales after I missed a lot of the Six Nations due to call-ups for Dragons.
“I was looking forward to the championships, we took a lot of boys from the Dragons, but injuries happen and it is part of the game you have to deal with. I’m just looking forward to getting back in the mix with Dragons now.”
Basham will now hope to feature in the upcoming Celtic Cup campaign before Guinness PRO14 hostilities start with an away trip to Munster in late September.
Dragons are then on home soil for the first time against Connacht at the start of October – an opponent that certainly sparks mixed emotions for Basham after his performance in Galway last season.
“It will be good to get back playing at home,” said Basham. “I actually got my first start of the season away at Connacht and scored a try in the last minute, so you would have thought I’d have been happy, but I was so sick.
“There was a bug going around camp and it was savage. I didn’t feel right, at half-time I felt pretty ropey, but you’ve just got to get your head down and do your best.
“Last season was really good - if you get game time you’ve got to love it,” he concluded.
“Towards the end of the season, particularly in South Africa and Judgement Day, I really enjoyed my rugby with the Dragons and I just want that to continue.”
I’m a Gwent boy who is playing in Gwent so I am very happy here...