NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have received an injury boost with the news that full back Dan Evans will be back in action at the start of next month.
The 23-year-old suffered a thumb injury in last Saturday’s Amlin Challenge Cup defeat to Wasps.
The initial prognosis was that the in-form full back would have to go under the knife and would be out of action for at least two months.
However, Evans is now expected to be back for the Dragons’ away RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with Glasgow on November 2.
“He is looking at two weeks in a cast and he can do non-contact training,” said director of rugby Robert Beale.
“He should then be fit to play with a purpose-made splint and we are delighted because he has made such an impact since joining us.
“It gives an opportunity for Tom Prydie or Hallam Amos at 15. We’ve got cover but it’s given us all a big boost that Dan won’t be out for too long.”
Evans’ absence will mean that both Steffan Jones and Lewis Robling will be in Saturday’s matchday squad against Bayonne, as the full-back has also been covering fly-half.
They will be joined in the 23 by wing Tonderai Chavhanga after the former South Africa international made his return for Newport in the British and Irish Cup following summer knee surgery.
It means there is the prospect of the ex-Springbok – one of the fastest players in world rugby – going up against Bayonne’s former All Black and finisher supreme Joe Rokocoko.
“Tonderai is one of the most professional rugby players that we have had at Rodney Parade,” said Beale.
“He is meticulous in terms of his preparation and he is a true athlete and a speed merchant.
“Tonderai is different to our other wingers because of his top end speed. I think back to his try to beat Cardiff Blues and, with respect to the rest of our squad, I don’t think anyone else would have been able to do that. He is a match-winning player and we don’t have too many of them available to us. It’s huge having him back and he is so enthusiastic and full of beans, wanting to get back on the pitch.”
The injury news is also positive in terms of wing Mike Poole, who is back in training following a knee injury, and back row/lock Andrew Coombs, who is two to three weeks away from a return after suffering knee ligament damage against Zebre in the opening game of the season.
However, prop Aaron Coundley is likely to be out for at least three months after rupturing his right bicep against Wasps and experienced scrum-halves Wayne Evans (back) and Joe Bedford (shoulder) are three weeks away.
Full-back Jamie Smith, who has had an injury-plagued time at the Dragons since joining in the summer of 2011, has also suffered a fresh problem.
The Ulsterman had an operation on his ankle last year and it became infected in the close season. He was getting back to fitness but has now tweaked a hamstring.
Dragons squad: T Prydie, T Chavhanga, H Amos, W Harries, A Hughes, A Tuilagi, A Smith, P Leach, L Robling, Steffan Jones, J Evans, L Davies, O Evans, N Williams, Steve Jones, S Parry, H Gustafson, D Way, N Buck, A Jones, I Nimmo, R Sidoli, L Evans, T Faletau, T Brown, J Groves.