THE Dragons are set to bring back their Wales stars in a bid to stun Leinster in the United Rugby Championship in Newport on Sunday (kick-off 1.15pm).

The Rodney Parade club have endured a tough start to the season and were without 21 players when suffering a third successive loss at Munster last weekend.

They were missing seven because of Wales’ uncapped friendly against the Barbarians at Principality Stadium, 13 were on the injured list and scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou is not yet back from Argentina duty.

The Dragons were able to field back row forward Taine Basham in the 45-14 loss in Cork after his return from World Cup action.

Four of his teammates from France 2023 – hooker Elliot Dee, back rowers Dan Lydiate and Aaron Wainwright and wing Rio Dyer – are back training with their club after the Baa Baas game and could make first URC outings of the season at Rodney Parade on Sunday.

South Wales Argus: Dragons hooker Elliot Dee tackles Justin Tipuric in Wales' win against the BarbariansDragons hooker Elliot Dee tackles Justin Tipuric in Wales' win against the Barbarians (Image: Press Association)

Tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother, lock Ben Carter and full-back/fly-half Cai Evans will also strengthen the squad against Leinster, with Evans’ return timely after Angus O’Brien was suffered an arm injury in the opening exchanges at Munster.

The Dragons could go from being down to the bare bones in the back row, starting with former flanker and now hooker James Benjamin at openside in Cork, to being spoilt for choice.

Ollie Griffiths (shoulder niggle), Harri Keddie and Sean Lonsdale (both concussion) are on the comeback trail but won’t be rushed given the possibility of fielding an all-World Cup back row of Lydiate, Basham and Wainwright.

The Dragons could also retain lock/blindside Ryan Woodman after the Wales Under-20s captain scored a try and impressed on his first professional start at Munster.

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE: Ryan Woodman played well on his first Dragons start at MunsterIMPRESSIVE: Ryan Woodman played well on his first Dragons start at Munster (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I was just thankful for the opportunity and hopefully people will see that I took it quite well,” said the 19-year-old from Caldicot, who made two appearances as a replacement last season.

“There were a lot of players missing and we knew going into it that it would be a tough challenge because Munster are a really good team.

“Players will be missing again in the future so as the younger boys we will need to keep stepping up but all the boys coming back for Leinster, with the Wales internationals bringing some experience, will be good for morale.”

Leinster lost their opening game at Glasgow but head to Rodney Parade after wins against the Sharks and Edinburgh.

Their sizeable Ireland contingent have been cleared to return after suffering World Cup quarter-final despair, although history suggests the side from the RDS will be formidable whoever travels.

“Attitude throughout the game will be a big thing against Irish teams because they like to play on top of you, getting gain line on gain line until you break,” said Woodman.

“Leinster zip the ball around but will bring a similar game to Munster in that they can put the pressure on with their phase play.”