THE Dragons are set to wait until January before sending “freak athlete” Calvin Wellington into the fray after bringing the speedster back to Wales from rugby league.

The 21-year-old signed a two-year Rodney Parade contract last week after the region bought him out of his deal with St Helens.

The centre/wing was spotted by the Saints playing union for Aberavon Quins in 2015 and was considered a bright prospect despite only making one solitary Super League appearance, at Newcastle’s St James’ Park against Huddersfield in the Magic Weekend in 2016.

The Dragons tempted Wellington back home but are prepared to be patient with the prospect, whose chances of featuring in the World Cup in Australia were ended by a muscle strain.

“Calvin has just come back from a little hamstring injury but also we want to be fair to him – I don’t see him playing until January to be honest,” said head coach Bernard Jackman.

“We want to give him two months of bringing him up to speed on rugby union, although he played as a kid so it’s not a complete learning experience.

“We will put some size on him but he is a freak of an athlete – the strength and conditioning coaches are excited by him. It’s rare to get someone who is that powerful and elastic with great footwork.

“We are going to teach him how to play our game then we will see him early January.

“I see him as a 13 but that’s a very difficult position to play so we don’t want to throw him in there and over-expose him. We will teach him the ropes so he might start on the wing.”

The Dragons will resist flinging Wellington into the fray despite a midfield injury crisis, instead bringing in Ospreys prospect Joe Thomas on loan.

The 21-year-old has linked up with the Rodney Parade region ahead of this weekend’s Anglo-Welsh Cup opener against Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

Thomas has made five appearances for the Ospreys in the development competition and plays his club rugby for Aberavon.

The Dragons are currently without Tyler Morgan (ankle), Sam Beard (pectoral muscle), Thretton Palamo (foot), Zane Kirchner (shoulder) and Adam Hughes (foot).

Pat Howard and Jared Rosser, wingers by trade, have covered in midfield in recent weeks.

“I am grateful to Steve Tandy and the Ospreys for helping us out during this difficult period with injuries and loaning us Joe,” said head coach Bernard Jackman.

“He has played age grade for Wales with some of our transition players and is a talented player.”

“The Dragons are looking for cover in midfield after a number of injuries recently and it’s a good opportunity for Joe to gain experience and show what he can do at this level, so it’s a loan that makes sense for everybody,” said former Newport fly-half Dan Griffiths, who is elite development manager at the Liberty Stadium.

“Joe is a promising young player who we’ll be keeping a close eye on while he is away from our environment, and we are expecting to see him thriving while at the Dragons.”

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