DRAGONS winger Ashton Hewitt has the mental toughness to come back stronger from more injury torment, believes backs coach Matt O’Brien.

The speedster will aim to return at the end of 2024 after rupturing ligaments in his right knee in training ahead of the New Year’s Day derby against the Scarlets.

The 29-year-old, who is under contract for next season, has undergone surgery and faces familiar rehabilitation.

Hewitt tore ligaments in his left knee when scoring against Northampton at Rodney Parade in April 2021 and went 18 months without playing competitive rugby.

South Wales Argus: BLOW: Ashton Hewitt helped the Dragons to victory against Oyonnax before injuryBLOW: Ashton Hewitt helped the Dragons to victory against Oyonnax before injury (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

"It's devastating," said O'Brien, who played alongside the winger for Newport RFC. "I am gutted for Ash because he was starting to find a bit of form.

"I spoke to him the day after it happened and he's lucky really that he's so resilient. He has such a strong personality and will bounce back for sure.

“It's a long-term injury which he has been through before and knows how to come out the other end of it.

“Ash is a good professional so I am sure he will come back stronger and we are all right behind him.

“It's devastating for all of us because we want our top players available but also because of the person he is.”

The blow leaves Wales wing Rio Dyer, Jared Rosser, Ewan Rosser and Corey Baldwin as the frontline wing options.

David Richards is yet to feature this season because of a back problem, Oli Andrew featured in pre-season and has impressed for Newport RFC.

Ioan Davies has also caught the eye with the Black and Ambers and is still training with the Dragons after being released last summer.

"It's a great chance for some of the youngsters,” said O’Brien. “They have been playing really well in the Premiership and it’s potentially an opportunity for them to step up and grab the jersey.”