Dragons player hunt is on
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have not ruled out dipping into the transfer market – but insist any newcomer needs to be the right fit.
The Dragons’ tight five has been under the pump of late and the region’s supporters have had to sit and watch while their rivals bring in fresh blood.
Cardiff Blues, who already boast four overseas front row forwards in their squad, brought a pair of Romanian props in on trial last week.
The Ospreys signed Moldovan international hooker/prop Dimitri Arhip this week while Glasgow snapped up German Araoz to solve a propping injury crisis.
The Dragons have been looking at potential recruits and entered discussions with a lock who featured for Argentina in the recent Rugby Championship and had a close look at Pumas tighthead Gaston Cortes, who has penned a deal with Bristol in the English Championship.
"Recruitment needs to be thought through because in the past we haven’t always got it right," said director of rugby Robert Beale.
"It’s a big decision and when you don’t have a huge budget or endless pots of money you need to get it right.
"We are discussing every other day whether we should be recruiting and you never say never, but we are trying not to panic into a signing and it has to be the right fit.
"There is one non-Welsh spot available that we can fill and there are no Welsh tight five forwards available, so it would have to come from overseas.
"That means you have to look at Argentina, France, Italy and the rules of the participation agreement (between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union) means that they have to have played for their country in the last 15 months, which puts the price up.
"We have looked at Argentine second rows and Fijian, but now they are not available until after the autumn internationals. Then you’ve got to think in December ‘would it be worth it for a five or a six-month contract?’ "I won’t say we are not going to recruit but we have to be sensible and if we are to bring someone in they have to be right type of player in a position that has an impact, and that hasn’t always been the case here."
The Dragons are starting to plan their recruitment for next season and acknowledge the need to strengthen up front.
Beale admits that new arrivals not having other commitments – as is the case with former South Africa utility forward Danie Rossouw, who signed a deal with French giants Toulon earlier this month – is a big factor.
"Ideally you want a player who is available week in, week out," he said.
"I have had conversations in the past where I have said if they retire from international rugby then it does change things.
"When you are running a business it isn’t just a rugby decision when players are unavailable for large parts of the season."
Another piece of the jigsaw is whether Wales star Dan Lydiate, currently sidelined with an ankle injury, pens a deal that would take up a sizeable chunk of their budget.
"We are planning for next year in terms of what positions we need to recruit and who we need to recruit," said Beale.
"Knowing exactly where one of your key players sees his future is pretty big when you try to discuss those things.
"We would sign Danny if he was ready to do so next week but at the moment he is focused on getting back to fitness."