NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have lined up South African prop Brok Harris to solve their tighthead problem but need the green light from the Welsh Rugby Union before they can complete the deal, writes Chris Kirwan.
Dragons have long been searching for a seasoned campaigner to be the cornerstone of their scrum and 29-year-old Harris, who can also play loosehead, appears to fit the bill.
The 6ft, 18st 5lb prop has over a century of Western Province appearances to his name and has turned out for the Stormers 93 times in Super Rugby since making his debut in 2007, nine of them coming in the current campaign.
The Rodney Parade region have held negotiations with his representatives and the prop is keen to head to Wales but the WRU have to give the go-ahead.
The Dragons, who have already been given permission to sign Cheetahs lock Ligtoring Landman, have a hearing with the governing body at the start of next month in which they will put forward their case for bringing in an overseas player.
The region believe they have a strong argument but it is not a given that Harris will be given the stamp of approval and the Scarlets have already had an application turned down this summer.
The Dragons have struggled at tighthead since Wales international Rhys Thomas left for Llanelli in 2009.
New Zealander Ben Castle failed to fill the void and things got so bad last season that the region tempted former England and Bath front-rower Duncan Bell out of retirement.
The 39-year-old proved to be a real hit but it was only a temporary measure and director of rugby Lyn Jones has already brought in a pair of fresh options for the right-hand side of the scrum in 29-year-old former Leicester and Gloucester prop Dave Young and 22-year-old Welsh-qualified Lloyd Fairbrother from Exeter.
The Dragons also have Dan Way and highly-rated prospect Alex Jeffries, a Wales Under-18 international who has already made 29 appearances for Newport at the age of 19, on their books.