THE Dragons are looking for strong-running hooker Gerard Ellis to add another string to his bow by learning to play loosehead, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 25-year-old arrived at Rodney Parade from London Irish last summer but has largely played second fiddle behind Wales international Elliot Dee.

Ellis, a former back-row forward, has made nine appearances this season, three of them with the number two on his back.

But the Southampton-born front rower, who qualifies for Wales thanks to family roots in Bedlinog, could become a valuable member of the squad thanks to his versatility.

The Dragons management are looking for Ellis to fulfil a similar role to loosehead-turned-hooker Hugh Gustafson, who left for the Ospreys in 2016.

He has trained on the left of the front row and was covering prop when an unused replacement in last week’s thrilling Guinness PRO14 draw with Ulster.

“Gerard is a really powerful boy, a good carrier and defender, and very strong in the gym,” said head coach Bernard Jackman.

“If we want a better quality squad, but a smaller one because of budget, someone like him who could play loosehead and hooker is really interesting.

“He was supposed to play against Ulster but Brok went off through injury and we wanted to go with experience, so it didn’t happen, but at some stage we will give him a go at loosehead.

“We have started to convert him in training and he is going really well, so we’d like to look at that. He definitely has the power and strength to do it, it’s just how quickly we can fast-track him.”

While Ellis is learning his trade at loosehead, Lloyd Fairbrother has had a good month at tighthead in the absence of Wales international Leon Brown.

“Tighthead props need to play and Lloyd has been working really hard,” added Jackman.