THE chances of Scotland back row forward Ross Beattie joining Gwent Dragons have increased, while the Dragons have stepped up their bid to sign South African centre Robbie Fleck.

Beattie, who is with Bristol, was a member of the Scotland squad last season, and went on as a replacement in the Six Nations Championship matches against England and Italy.

But he suffered a number of injury problems and Gwent want to make sure they have cleared up before they step in to sign him. Beattie wants to join Gwent and he is coming over next week to take the fitness tests which coach Mike Ruddock wants him to undergo.

If he passes them he will replace Andrew Powell in the back row after Powell departed for French club Beziers.

"We want Ross to complete the fitness tests, and though we can't rush it the prognosis is good," said Ruddock.

Fleck has been a Gwent target for a while, but Bath stepped in recently with a bid for his services. But Ruddock wants a big name signing in the centre and the Dragons have budgeted for a player in that position.

"I have met with the directors and it has been agreed to make a concrete offer to Robbie," said Ruddock.

"We are now ready to put that in writing, but whether that is what he is looking for is up to his agent."

Dale Jackson, who is Fleck's agent, says there is a good chance that Fleck will sign for Gwent.

The biggest pull in that direction is the presence of former Western Stormers teammates Percy Montgomery and Andy Marinos in the Gwent line-up.

Montgomery has given the Dragons the thumbs-up, and though he can't play until December 3 because of his six-month ban after pushing a touch judge over, he will help out on the coaching front when Clive Griffiths is away with Wales at the World Cup.

"The players are happy, it's now a matter of getting on the field," he said at yesterday's official launch of the Dragons. We have got a lot of good players in the Gwent region, but the secret is how quickly we gel as a team."