DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan believes Jack Dixon can learn to embrace being a bulldozing centre with the help of Lions powerhouse Jamie Roberts.

The Wales legend has signed a one-year deal to provide the Rodney Parade region with a direct approach from 12, dominating collisions whether carrying or tackling.

That role has previously been Dixon’s, with the combative centre set for an eighth full campaign with the Dragons seniors.

The 25-year-old from Newbridge was once suggested as the heir apparent to Roberts at Test level and trained with Warren Gatland’s squad ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

Dixon remains uncapped and at times has suffered from being seen as one-dimensional – rock solid in defence and good for go-forward, but lacking guile with ball in hand.

Such accusations have often been levelled at Roberts but the physical centre has won 94 caps, shone for the Lions in South African and Australia, is a Cardiff Blues legend and has played for Racing 92, Harlequins, Bath and the Stormers.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan hopes the 33-year-old’s presence will help Dixon feel comfortable in being belligerent.

South Wales Argus:

“We’ve talked a lot with Jack about understanding what he is good at rather than trying to be good at everything,” said Ryan.

“The power of that coming from Jamie will be important for him because we definitely saw the best of Jack at times last year but at other times saw him working hard to be something that didn’t quite work.

“It’s about making sure the good parts of your game are on the field consistently week to week, and then adding on as you go through.”

Roberts has himself had to battle with being pigeon-holed, especially after losing his place in the Wales team in 2017.

“I’ve been challenged later in my career, whether privately or publicly, to develop my skill-set and try to become an all-round player,” he said. “You either embrace that or you try to do what you do best, and do it even better.

“There is no secret about the way that I’ve played the game through the years and I like to think I’ve added value to the teams that I have played in.

South Wales Argus:

“I enjoy the confrontational side of rugby but it’s also about adding some subtleties around that, whether offloading or a bit more footwork.

“Super Rugby allowed me to do that a bit better. There’s a bit more space on the field compared to the Premiership when you end up running into three players usually.

“I’m never going to be an outside half, that’s not me and I’ve never tried to be that, but I want to be a better version of Jamie Roberts.”

Ryan has brought in Roberts and Wales centre Nick Tompkins to boost his midfield but believes they won’t block the progress of Dixon, Adam Warren, Connor Edwards and bright prospect Aneurin Owen.

“They are hugely positive about what they can learn with Jamie here,” said Ryan. “The value is enormous of somebody who still stands out there and still faces the same things as you, talking about what they see, what is possible and what could potentially go wrong.

“As coaches you can only really shape and guide direction, the expert is the person stood next to you who has done it the week before.

“That’s where we’ve probably struggled in the past, it’s not a secret about the number of senior players compared to the number of youngsters.”