WALES tighthead Leon Brown will miss the Dragons’ first block of fixtures in the United Rugby Championship after an operation on a long-standing neck problem.
The 22-times capped prop was limited to 10 club appearances last season and missed the run-in with a nerve injury that also ruled him out of the international summer tour to South Africa.
It was hoped that Brown would return for the start of the campaign but the 25-year-old from Newport is set for at least two months on the sidelines after going under the knife.
“The surgery has gone really well but he’ll be out for a period of time,” said head coach Dai Flanagan.
“We’ve done everything medically correct to make sure we give him the fairest chance.
“He’s a young prop and the last thing you want on a young prop is surgery. We’ve given him the best possibly opportunity.
“He’s been a machine in training and everything else. The surgery has gone well and we hope to get him back as soon as possible.”
“I’m not qualified to talk about the exact details of the operation, but it was hindering him with his strength,” continued Flanagan.
“He’d got back to a certain level, but there were certain movements and certain parts of the game that he can’t be fully secure on. This should help that.”
His absence is a hammer blow for the Dragons in their bid to make a strong start to the URC after winning just twice last season.
They endured a nightmare start when hammered 44-6 at Edinburgh and host Munster on Sunday before games against the Sharks (home), Benetton (away), Cardiff (away), Ospreys (home) and Zebre (home).
Brown’s absence leaves Lloyd Fairbrother and Chris Coleman as the options for the 3 jersey, backed up by novice Luke Yendle.
“Chris had a very good season last year and having Lloyd back [after a serious Achilles injury], with the quality of his scrum, is important,” said Flanagan. “They are fighting tooth and nail for the start each week.”
The Dragons were also without Wales looseheads Rhodri Jones (calf) and Rob Evans (cheekbone) against Edinburgh after their summer arrivals from the Ospreys and Scarlets respectively.
Both have returned to training this week and could come into contention for Munster, with the team announced at midday on Friday.