Harri Keddie believes the competition for places in the back row at Dragons will only intensify in the coming months with a European quarter-final to look forward to.
Dragons now know they will face English giants Bristol Bears in the last eight of the European Challenge Cup – with a date in early April to be finalised.
And Keddie – named man-of-the-match in the Euro win over Enisei-STM - insists the battle for places will only go up in the next few months for what is sure to be an unforgettable Anglo-Welsh derby.
“The competition in the back row is bringing the best out of us at the moment," said the 23-year-old, who was a late call-up for the Enisei game after Taine Basham was ruled out with illness.
"Look at Taine this year, he came in and has taken his chances excellently, then Ross and Aaron have been outstanding, Cory Hill has jumped into the back row recently as well.
"Then there was Lewis Evans and Huw Taylor at the start of the season putting in good performances. Ollie, James Benjamin, Ben Fry – everyone has been excellent when they have come in and there is really stiff competition.
"That's healthy, we all help each other along the way and push each other to get better by doing extras off the field.”
Reflecting on the victory over the Russians, Keddie admitted it was pleasing to get the job done on home soil to reward a strong campaign in the pool stages.
"It’s nice to have qualified. It was a sticky first half (versus Enisei) but we pulled through in the end,” he said.
“Once you have qualified you look back at the games as a collective, in terms of points rather than specific results, and it shows the importance of the bonus point that we picked up away at Worcester with 14 men.
"It's credit to the squad and the coaching staff for the game plan that we have implemented to pick up those points whenever we have been able to.
“Whoever has stepped in to play in this European tournament has played really well.
"A lot of the younger boys weren't around the last time we got through to the knock-out stages, we were all watching it as we came through the Academy.
"It's testimony to the hard work everyone's put in that we've got something out of Europe in terms of getting to the quarter-finals.
"It's game by game now, there is no form to it and we will take whatever comes in our stride."
Dragons now have a mid-season break from games before the Guinness PRO14 resumes with a home fixture against Benetton Rugby on Saturday, February 15 (kick-off 7.35pm).
And Keddie admitted the squad would need the time to recover after a bruising period of derby games and European clashes.
"We are not the biggest squad and any injuries hit us harder than other clubs, who do have bigger budgets and more players to bring in," added Keddie.
"We've got a few weeks to get boys back on their feet and our bodies back to where they need to be to dig in for another few rounds in the Guinness PRO14."
Dragons are next in Guinness PRO14 action when we face Benetton Rugby at Rodney Parade on Saturday, February 15 (kick-off 7.35pm). Join us for all the league action! Click HERE to buy online or call 01633 674990.
It's credit to the squad and the coaching staff for the game plan that we have implemented to pick up those points whenever we have been able to...