THE Dragons have lined up Welsh-qualified Connacht lock Joe Maksymiw as they prepare for life without Cory Hill.

The Rodney Parade region had been looking to bolster their boilerhouse even before Wales international Hill opted to leave for Cardiff Blues.

One of the players on director of rugby Dean Ryan's radar has been 24-year-old Maksymiw, who came through Leicester's academy before heading to Galway in 2018.

He has been in talks with the Dragons and looks likely to make the move to Newport this summer.

The 6ft 8ins second rower made 10 appearances in his first campaign for Connacht and enjoyed 15 outings before the coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of the Guinness PRO14.

Maksymiw, from Loughborough, made his Leicester debut in 2014 and made 11 appearances for the Tigers before moving to the Sportsground.

Connacht snapped him up because of his Irish heritage but the forward also qualifies for Wales.

The province last week announced that 22-year-old lock Oisin Dowling is moving west from Leinster.

The Dragons need to sign a second row forward this summer because of the departure of Hill, whose departure has been confirmed but deal with the Blues has not yet been announced.

The 28-year-old's decision to return to the Arms Park is a blow to the Rodney Parade region because, as one of 38 Test players, the Welsh Rugby Union will be paying 80 per cent of his contract under a new funding model.

That would have left the Dragons getting a Test lock for a small outlay, albeit one that they would lose for large chunks of the season.

South Wales Argus:

Hill's departure will put a heavy burden on the shoulders of Matthew Screech, who enjoyed an excellent 2019/20.

Joe Davies has grafted hard alongside Screech in the absence of injured lock Brandon Nansen, whose contract expires this summer.

The Samoan international has made just 15 appearances, eight of them starts, since signing from Stade Francais in 2018 but is in talks over a fresh deal.

The 26-year-old was not listed among the Dragons' leavers last week but any deal would have to represent value given his injury record.

Max Williams, 22, and Ben Carter, 19, are prospects in the second row while flankers Lewis Evans and Huw Taylor have also shifted forward in the past.

The Dragons are yet to confirm any signings but are set to boost their backs with the arrival of Wales duo Nick Tompkins and Jonah Holmes.

Centre Tompkins will head to Rodney Parade on a season-long loan from Saracens, who face a year in the Championship because of salary cap breaches, and wing/full-back Jonah Holmes has been released from the final year of his contract with Leicester.

The Dragons are also in advanced talks with Joe Tomane, who has spent the last two years with Leinster.

The versatile back won 17 caps on the wing for Australia but is viewed as an inside centre.