THERE is a high-profile addition to the Dragons Premiership Select XV coaching team for their British and Irish Cup campaign – former Springbok Zane Kirchner.

The 31-times capped South Africa international is sidelined until the New Year after dislocating his right shoulder in the Guinness PRO14 victory against Connacht last month.

Kirchner started the first three fixtures of the season at full-back after his move from Leinster but after going under the knife remains a key figure at the Dragons’ training base in Ystrad Mynach.

He is playing a leading role in mentoring the region’s burgeoning back three players Hallam Amos, Ashton Hewitt, Carl Meyer, Jared Rosser, George Gasson and Will Talbot-Davies.

Now the 33-year-old has linked up with academy manager James Chapron, academy coach Rhys Thomas and Welsh Rugby Union skills coach Chris Horsman on the management team for the B&I Cup, which starts on Saturday at London Scottish.

“Zane was a massive influence during pre-season when he was fit and it is something Bernard [Jackman, head coach] wanted to continue into this block,” said Chapron.

“This will give him some experience of coaching and, although he is still a really good player, I am sure he is looking to develop those skills at this stage of his career.

“His mentoring of the younger boys was going to be a big feature at the club anyway and he will get better as a coach as the process goes along.

“Zane works really hard, is diligent and knows the game inside out. He has vast experience to try and pass on to upskill young players so it’s great to have him on board.

“Players like Zane and Gavin Henson have come in with experience we’ve never really had and it does help players to get better quicker.”

The Dragons travel to the Athletic Ground in Richmond (kick-off 3pm) for their opening game in Pool Three, which also includes Yorkshire Carnegie and Jersey.

Scottish are second from bottom in the English Championship but will present a stern test according to Chapron.

“Their results don’t show a picture of where they are as a team,” he said. “They look really well coached and their defensive sets are really solid with a lot of line speed.

“Their set piece, as usual for English Championship teams, is going to be a huge challenge for us.”

The Dragons’ lengthy list of absentees at senior level means they are unable to bolster the Premiership Select side too much but Chapron is excited by the task at Scottish.

“The first week is always hard in the B&I because we are thrown together on a Monday and our injury crisis at the moment doesn’t help,” he said.

“But with every player that goes down injured from the first team, it’s an opportunity for a younger player to step up and then an opportunity for someone else [in the B&I Cup].

“That’s what the competition is all about. We’ve got a couple of senior heads in, some younger boys and the Premiership buy-in has been excellent again this year.

“We try and pick a particular demographic to meet our development needs and it will be good to see what happens.”

The side will be captained by either loosehead Phil Price or scrum-half Charlie Davies, who are joined in the XV by fellow senior Dragon Dorian Jones at fly-half.

James Sheekey, who has signed a one-year deal with the region from Cardiff RFC, will be in the back row while Wales 7s international Ben Roach, a flanker who has been training with the Dragons, is set to feature along with academy talent.

Premiership prospects come in the shape of wings Matthew Powell (Cross Keys) and Toby Fricker (Ebbw Vale), centre Chay Smith (Newport), fly-half Josh Prosser (Cross Keys) and Matt O’Brien (Newport), scrum-half James Leadbeater (Cross Keys), flankers Scott Matthews (Cross Keys) and Nathan Hudd (Bedwas), locks Lance Randall, Jonathan Davies (both Ebbw Vale) and Josh Skinner (Cross Keys), props Corey Hewlett (Cross Keys) and Garin Harris (Newport) and hooker Alun Rees (Bedwas).