FORMER Wales international Matthew J Watkins has died at the age of 41.

The 18-times capped centre, who was inducted into Newport’s hall of fame in 2018, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 when it was discovered in his pelvis.

Two years ago the cancer spread to his spine and earlier this year it was discovered in his head between the brain and skull.

Watkins, who was from Blackwood and went on to have two campaigns at the Dragons between 2009 and 2011, played youth rugby for Newbridge and Pontllanfraith.

Barry And District News: EXPERIENCED: Matthew J Watkins

He became a popular figure at Rodney Parade with the Black and Ambers, making 131 appearances for the club, scoring 35 tries and helping Newport lift the WRU National Cup in 2001.

Watkins, who went on to become an agent for rugby players, made his Wales debut against Italy in Rome in 2003 with the last of his 18 caps coming against Argentina in Buenos Aires three years later.

He was married to Stacey and had two sons, Sior and Tal.

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Wales will wear black armbands for their Six Nations encounter with England at Twickenham.

"Matthew will be missed by so many and our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends," read a Dragons statement. "The thoughts of everyone at Dragons Rugby are with them all at this very sad time."

Newport RFC said: "We are all extremely saddened to learn of the passing of ex-Black and Ambers and Wales international, Matthew J Watkins.

"Matthew played 131 times for the club in two stints and was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2018. We send all our thoughts and love to Matthew's family and friends."

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