THE Dragons are aiming to get Wales tighthead Leon Brown “flying into December” but this weekend will look for a new boy to continue his excellent start to life at Rodney Parade.

Mesake Doge has started all four of the games in the United Rugby Championship after arriving from Brive in July.

The 28-year-old Fijian was a much-needed signing after stalwart Lloyd Fairbrother ruptured his Achilles in May, a blow that could lead to the Cornishman spending the entire season on the sidelines.

That was followed by Brown suffering a ‘stinger’ on Wales duty in the summer; the 24-year-old played all three Tests but is yet to feature in 2021/22 because of nerve issues in his shoulder.

He is making good progress but will sit out the game at Cardiff on Saturday before working towards the next block of URC fixtures and the start of the European Challenge Cup.

South Wales Argus: COMEBACK: Leon Brown is nearing a return for the DragonsCOMEBACK: Leon Brown is nearing a return for the Dragons

“We will be in a good space to have Leon flying into the December window,” said director of rugby Ryan.

The loss of two key tightheads has led to Doge shouldering big responsibility so early in his Dragons career, backed up by 23-year-old Chris Coleman.

Ryan has frequently spoken about the challenges of the last recruitment drive due to wrangling with the Welsh Rugby Union over the budget.

However, the early signs are that the Dragons have made strong signing that will make Brown sweat on his start.

“He's doing alright for a fella that nobody knew anything about! We were aware of him at Brive and had been keeping an eye on his development,” said Ryan.

“We were late in the market and he has been sensational for us, not only on the field but around the place. He is a really popular member of the squad and is doing a great job for us.”

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE: Mesake Doge has started well for the DragonsIMPRESSIVE: Mesake Doge has started well for the Dragons

Doge – pronounced ‘Don-gay’ – arrived fresh from facing New Zealand with Fiji and will add to his caps this autumn against Wales, either side of Tests with Spain and Georgia.

He has settled swiftly to make an immediate impression on his new teammates by doing the nuts and bolts with a bit extra thrown in.

“Mes is a top bloke and he just does his job, while also going that step beyond,” said loosehead Greg Bateman. “He is out there making big hits and works his socks off for the whole time he is on the pitch.

“He has been an excellent addition to the squad. We deeply miss Lloyd but Mes has been a shrewd signing by the gaffer.

“He is an experienced campaigner who has played a lot of rugby and spent time in France, where you definitely have to be more than alright to play in the front row. He has been great for us and we are lucky to have him.”