THE Dragons have suffered a winter injury blow after Ross Moriarty was ruled out for “a number of months” because the Wales star needs shoulder surgery.

The back row forward was injured after being hit by a double tackle by New Zealand’s Ethan Blackadder and Nepo Laulala in Saturday’ autumn opener at Principality Stadium.

Moriarty winced in pain as the hit was made, had treatment on his right shoulder and was then helped from the field in the first half.

The 27-year-old and captain Alun Wyn Jones, who was injured in the opening stages, had scans on Monday and will go under the knife.

“The scans revealed that neither Jones nor Moriarty will be able to participate further in the Autumn Nations Series, and will therefore be released from the squad,” read a Welsh Rugby Union statement.

“Both players will require surgery with an estimated recovery period of a number of months respectively.”

The Dragons return to action after the break for the autumn internationals with a United Rugby Championship double-header against the Scottish sides, hosting Edinburgh on Saturday, November 27 and then travelling to Glasgow the following Friday.

Those fixtures are followed by the start of the European Challenge Cup – away to Perpignan, home to Lyon – before the festive derbies Ospreys (away), Cardiff (home) and Scarlets (away).

South Wales Argus:

Moriarty started the season strongly for the Dragons with typically combative displays against the Ospreys, Leinster and the Stormers.

The blow of losing him is softened by the return to fitness of hard-working Harri Keddie, another confrontational back rower who was an influential figure in 2020/21.

The Dragons have strong competition for back row starts with Wales duo Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright, Keddie, Ollie Griffiths, Ben Fry, Dan Baker and Huw Taylor the leading options, while Lennon Greggains started the season strongly with Newport RFC but is currently sidelined.

Bath’s Taulupe Faletau, who is poised to join Cardiff next season, has also been released from the Wales squad because of an ankle injury suffered training with his club.

Centre Uilisi Halaholo will re-join the squad on Friday, having spent 10 days in isolation after testing positive for Covid.

Cardiff back rower Shane Lewis-Hughes and Ospreys lock Rhys Davies have been called into the autumn squad for the games against South Africa, Fiji and Australia.