HE lives a Percy Montgomery punt away from Rodney Parade but it's Bristol that is home for Newport's Ryan Edwards.

The 28-year-old grew up in Frank Street, enjoying Riverside kickabouts with Corelli Street's Chris Gunter, now Wales' most-capped male football international.

Weekends were spent with the Black and Ambers, dreaming of following in the footsteps of some titans of rugby.

"I grew up watching Newport with Percy Montgomery, Gary Teichmann and Rod Snow," said Edwards.

"Me and my dad would go over there every home game and I would run around with a ball on the cabbage patch."

Edwards remains in the city, experiencing the parking frustrations around his Rodney Road house, but it's Bristol that has helped him to achieve his ambition of becoming a pro.

The winger played for the Dragons at age-grade level but it was while he was playing for the University of the West of England that he got his big break.

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"I was pushed by a teacher, Mike Jones, to try and go to university and he motivated me with rugby," said the former St Julians pupil.

"He was more like a good friend to be honest, getting me in to do weights at lunch and doing skills in the gymnasium.

"I applied to UWE and got in, I played a couple of matches and got spotted by the Bristol coaches, then Matt Sherratt and Liam Middleton invited me to come in and train.

"I'd always wanted to be a professional rugby player, ever since I was nine or 10.

"My dad (Billy) would take me all over Wales playing for Newport High School Old Boys, playing all the clubs and going on tours.

"It was always the dream and when I got the opportunity to come here I wanted to take it with both hands.

"I wanted to try and make something of it and play rugby at a good standard, pushing to be a professional rugby player. To achieve that is fantastic."

Edwards made his Bristol debut in 2011 against Cornish Pirates in the British and Irish Cup.

Two years later he signed professional terms and he has been a firm fixture ever since, racking up 84 appearances, scoring 30 tries and experiencing the highs of the Premiership and the lows of the Championship.

Pat Lam pointed to Edwards' "genuine pace that can frighten a defender" after handing the winger a one-year contract extension in April, yet it's not just his on-field talent that has made him a popular and important figure over the bridge.

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"Ryan has developed into a consistent performer," said the Bears boss, who masterminded Connacht's PRO14 title triumph in 2016.

"He's got a good attitude and has added real value to our game. Ryan knows the club and understands the direction we want to go."

It's that connection with upwardly-mobile Bristol that is fuelling Edwards' desire to remain part of a star-studded squad.

"I am Welsh at heart but I class this place as home now, I have been here a long time and this is my city," said the winger.

"Everything about Bristol is great – the city and the support is unlike any other place. The fans are unbelievable and we have got great things in place for the future of the club.

"I have seen some highs and some real lows but we are in a position now to be a very successful team and we are aiming for big things. I can see us being successful and I want to be a part of that future."

Edwards, in the final year of an Open University law degree that requires 18 hours of study per week, features in the Premiership but it's fair to say that he's not a household name in his homeland.

"I guess that I am not on the radar in Wales because I have played all my rugby in England but that's part of the game," he said.

"I went to Cardiff Blues on loan during the (2018) Six Nations and it was an enjoyable experience to see what the regions are like and how they train, seeing what life is like on the other side of the bridge.

"I am signed up for this year at Bristol and we will see what the future holds, but I've never looked to leave or wanted to be anywhere else – I am happy here."