Dragons' search for overseas star is stepped up
LEINSTER V DRAGONS (Saturday, KO 6.15)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons are to step up their bid for an overseas international forward after suffering another injury blow.
Lock/back row forward Andrew Coombs has been ruled out for six to eight weeks after injuring his left knee in the RaboDirect Pro12 opener against Zebre.
He played on for an hour – believing that it was just a dead leg after colliding with an opponent in the opening exchanges – but scans revealed that he ruptured posterior cruciate ligaments.
That is not as dramatic as it sounds but the 27-year-old will miss the first block of Pro12 fixtures.
The Dragons were already starting to look at recruiting a back row forward after openside Darren Waters suffered a pre-season knee injury that will lead to at least six months out.
But the search will now intensity with the coaching staff trawling through footage this week and starting to whittle down a list of potential candidates.
The hunt is complicated by the fact that arrivals from overseas must be rubber-stamped by the Welsh Rugby Union as part of the participation agreement.
To get the green light it is required that candidates have played international rugby in the last 15 months, though exceptions have been made.
“We need to go out in the market place and we are actively looking for an overseas player now,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“We kept an overseas slot and a pot of money back because we knew that we were light this season with a 38-man squad.
“They (southern hemisphere players) are all coming out of their domestic competitions now and we are looking for a back five specialist.
“We don’t have potential targets yet and that is our week’s work but it’s in the back of my mind that we will be losing Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau to Wales duty.”
Coombs is not the only one to suffer an injury blow last weekend.
Winger Mike Poole will be out for two months after a blow to his left knee when playing for Bedwas.
The 26-year-old, who was set to be involved at Leinster on Saturday, has undergone three major operations on his right knee but his latest set back will not require surgery.
He will not be involved in Saturday’s clash in Dublin and nor will Lydiate after he bruised his chest against Zebre.
It is not serious and he will be back in the starting line-up for the home derby against Cardiff Blues on September 15.
The Dragons are boosted for their clash with the European champions at the Royal Dublin Society by the return of skipper Lewis Evans. The back row forward missed all of pre-season and the win over Zebre with a calf injury but will be on the bench in the capital.
Bedwas’ Liam Davies, the former Scarlets and Brive scrum-half, is once again in the matchday squad because Wayne Evans is still struggling with a back injury.
Wales Under-18s star Hallam Amos will go from being back in the classroom at Monmouth School this week to featuring among the replacements against the Heineken Cup champions.
There will be changes up front given that the starting front row against Zebre – hooker Steve Jones and props Phil Price and Dan Way – are being left in Wales.
It means that former Munster tighthead Tim Ryan is poised for his debut from the bench in his homeland.
Dragons squad: D Evans, H Amos, T Prydie, W Harries, A Tuilagi, A Smith, P Leach, L Robling, S Jones, J Evans, L Davies, N Williams, A Coundley, S Parry, H Gustafson, R Ryan, N Buck, A Jones, I Nimmo, J Groves, I Jones, H Stoddart, L Evans, T Brown, T Faletau.