‘STEELY’ Sio Tomkinson is set to return for the Dragons in Saturday's United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton.

The 27-year-old centre/wing is in line to feature in Treviso after being out since December 9 with shoulder and neck problems.

Tomkinson, who was a high-profile signing from the Highlanders in the summer of 2022, has made just six appearances in his second season at Rodney Parade.

The Dragons have captain Steff Hughes and Aneurin Owen as midfield options along with the up-and-coming pair of Harri Ackerman and Joe Westwood.

Stalwart Jack Dixon has retired, Max Clark has spent the season on loan at Cardiff and Tomkinson is out of contract this summer.

With money tight, the New Zealander could well be set for the exit but head coach Dai Flanagan recognises the centre’s qualities.

South Wales Argus: Sio Tomkinson is led off for treatment in the Dragons' win against Oyonnax in DecemberSio Tomkinson is led off for treatment in the Dragons' win against Oyonnax in December (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“It's been difficult season for him, I've never had to have a selection conversation with Sio,” said Flanagan. “He plays when he is fit and the challenge for us is to keep Sio fit and firing for the run-in.

“Sio has the power that can add to our game in attack because he is a guy who can get us over the gain line.

“I have high expectations for Harri Ackerman and Joe Westwood to be the future for us there as well but Sio also adds steel.

“He has the power so that when he hits, it finishes things when he makes defensive reads out the back.”

The Dragons have five games left this season with this weekend’s trip to Italy the last game outside of Wales.

They host Connacht and the Stormers at Rodney Parade, take on the Ospreys in Swansea and then face the Scarlets at the Judgement Day double-header at Cardiff City Stadium.

Fly-half/full-back Angus O’Brien is nearing a return but won’t feature against Benetton while Flanagan must also weigh up how he will use his Wales contingent.

South Wales Argus: Wales and Dragons hooker Elliot DeeWales and Dragons hooker Elliot Dee (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Number eight Aaron Wainwright, hooker Elliot Dee and wing Rio Dyer all featured prominently in the Six Nations, while full-back Cai Evans and back rower Taine Basham were fringe figures.

Flanagan said: “Some of our players came out of the Six Nations with niggles and fronted right up for us in those last two games at home.

“There is some load management needed, but it is nice to have a selection headache.

“We feel healthy, and training has been much more competitive these last few days. It’s what good squads should be and keeping our best players fit.”

The Dragons name their team at midday for what promises to be a tough test against a Benetton side who cannot afford to slip up on home soil against a struggler if they are to make the play-offs.

The Italians are fresh from an impressive 39-24 win against Connacht in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

Benetton have lost only once at Stadio Monigo in any competition since March, 2023 while the Dragons have not won away in the URC since beating the Scarlets in Llanelli in April, 2022.