DRAGONS chief Dean Ryan has revealed that the full extent Brok Harris’ chest injury won’t be clear until the veteran prop goes under the knife.

Harris was forced off early in the second half of his region’s 34-19 defeat by Glasgow Warriors on February 22 after damaging a pectoral muscle.

The South African-born veteran missed Saturday’s last-ditch win over the Cheetahs at Rodney Parade with Wales international Aaron Jarvis taking his place in the starting XV.

Speaking after the final whistle, Dragons chief Ryan said Harris’ injury was “more long term”, with the 35-year-old expected to be operated on.

Ryan also praised the efforts of former Newport High School pupil Josh Reynolds, 21, who replaced Jarvis at loosehead six minutes into the second period.

Academy product Reynolds has made 11 appearances, all off the bench this season, and more than held his own on Saturday in very difficult conditions and against a tough Cheetahs pack.

Ryan said: “I think Brok will be more long term. He probably will require surgery.

“We won’t understand the extent of the damage until surgery happens.

“He’s got a damaged chest muscle which means we might be without his services.

“Full credit to young Josh Reynolds when he came on because the scrum was a key part of that game.”

While Harris is out for the foreseeable future, hooker Richard Hibbard is set to return for Friday’s rearranged Guinness PRO14 home clash with Benetton.

Wales and British & Irons Lions ace Hibbard has spent a spell on the sidelines recovering from a shoulder injury.

“He’s going to come back in a real flurry at the end. He should be back for Benetton, I’ve given him enough time off!” smiled Ryan.

“He’s desperate to play and I’m hoping he will this weekend.”

As for the Benetton encounter, Ryan has no qualms about playing a team from a coronavirus-hit region of Italy.

Two PRO14 matches in Italy last weekend were called off, but league officials confirmed the Rodney Parade meeting will go ahead as planned.

"I can't wait to play, I don't think we have any issues," he said. “We just want to keep playing.

“It’s for people in higher positions than me to make decisions about crowds being together.

"We'd have to take a government lead in that situation (crowd controls), we want to play rugby.

“Losing the Benetton game in the first place really killed momentum.

“To have a team for five weeks without a game, we were thinking, how do we keep preparing in this period?

“We’re desperate to keep playing because we’ve now got 10-12 weeks on the bounce with players coming back and we want to play in some better conditions.

“I’m more hopeful of the weather improving than anything else changing.”

The Rodney Parade pitch will again be under scrutiny this week after the rain brought by Storm Jorge left the playing surface like a mud bath on Saturday evening.

"There's been an unprecedented amount of (bad) weather, and it's for the club to look at what supports this business in the right way” added Ryan.

"That includes the way we play rugby and who is here playing other sports and the revenue that brings in.

“It doesn’t help the rugby. We’re 10 kilos a man down and conditions like that doesn’t allow us to play the game we want, but there’s a bigger picture.

"I'm sure it's a topic that will be discussed a lot and I know it’s part of plans for the future because nobody's happy with that, and there a lot of people working incredibly hard to make it as good as it is.

“It’s very easy to turn everybody in on each other – and that’s not the case.

“We’ve got a situation where people have worked incredibly hard in a region that has been smashed around, and we’ve got to work out how we cope with that better and support this business going forward.”