Newport Gwent Dragons are facing a midfield crisis ahead of the new season after new signing Matthew Watkins underwent surgery.
Ex-Wales centre Watkins, who arrived last week from Gloucester, will miss the start of the new campaign following a hip operation in June. And Dragons regular Rhodri Gomer-Davies is also recovering from ankle surgery with little more than three weeks to go before the Magners League kick-off. The Rodney Parade-based region have already lost three-quarters Rory Sidey, Marc Stcherbina and Gareth Maule this summer. Australian Sidey has returned Down Under to join Super 14 outfit New South Wales Waratahs. Stcherbina has retired following a serious back injury last season while Maule has moved to Welsh rivals the Scarlets. That has opened the door for Newport's Tom Riley to step into the squad, having made a handful of regional appearances for the Blues. Academy player Adam Hughes is also considered to be highly promising.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.