NEW Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman is ready to shift Brok Harris across the scrum, declaring that the South African prop is the region’s best loosehead.

The 32-year-old, who signed a two-year contract extension last winter, has been a hugely influential figure since signing from the Stormers in 2014.

The durable Harris has missed just 11 games of 87 in all competitions since arriving at Rodney Parade fresh from a Currie Cup triumph with Western Province.

He has started in 67 of his 76 appearances and all but four of them have been at tighthead with the last time he wore 1 on his back being in the European Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield in May, 2015.

But the South African, who qualifies for Wales this autumn, was handed a start at loosehead in the final warm-up against Glasgow last Friday when he formed a front row with highly-rated tighthead Leon Brown and hooker Elliot Dee.

With Sam Hobbs, first-choice number 1 last season, sidelined by a knee injury Harris is in pole position to start in Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 opener against Leinster (kick-off 3.15pm) ahead of stalwart Phil Price, Thomas Davies and Luke Garrett.

“Brok is our best loosehead. He is our starting loosehead until someone gets better than him,” said former Ireland hooker Jackman.

“We can’t afford not to have him loosehead and Leon is someone we want to bring through who is our next best tighthead. That’s the pecking order.”

Jackman made it clear as soon as he took over the reins at Rodney Parade this summer that the Dragons needed to make strides at the set piece in order to play a more expansive style. Moving Harris across would certainly help on that front.

“If we can’t improve our scrum then we will struggle to implement the type of game that we are going to play, so it’s high priority,” said the head coach in June.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have pledged to look after tighthead Dan Suter after the prop suffered a foot injury in the pre-season loss at Exeter.

The 24-year-old was released by the Ospreys at the end of last season but was given the chance to earn a deal at Rodney Parade.

He did enough while on trial to earn a deal and accepted an offer in the week leading up to the Chiefs warm-up, only to then suffer a blow in the first half at Sandy Park.

“The Dragons are going to look after players who risk their bodies for us,” said Jackman. “We will work with Dan through his rehabilitation and see him out the other side.”

Lloyd Fairbrother will look to put pressure on Brown and Harris as a tighthead option while Wales Under-20s prospect Christian Coleman, 19 tomorrow, is out until at least the autumn after a summer shoulder operation.

Former Wales tighthead Craig Mitchell spent last season with the Dragons but was not offered fresh terms and has signed for Bath.