NEW powerhouse back rower Solomone Funaki has had an operation on his left knee so that he can hit the ground running at the Dragons.

The powerful Tonga back rower has gone under the knife to sort out existing problems so that he can play a full part in pre-season for the Rodney Parade club.

The 30-year-old will head to Wales early with his family this summer before building up to the start of the United Rugby Championship season on the weekend of September 20.

Funaki hasn’t played in Super Rugby since coming off the bench for Moana Pasifika against the Highlanders on May 4 and posted a picture on social media from his hospital bed.

That raised fears of a serious injury for Dragons fans but the forward will be fine to link up with his new teammates as planned.

South Wales Argus: RECRUIT: The Dragons have signed Tonga international Solomone FunakiRECRUIT: The Dragons have signed Tonga international Solomone Funaki (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“He has had a bit of a troublesome year and has had a clean-out of his knee, so won’t be available for Moana Pasifika’s end to the season,” said head coach Dai Flanagan.

“He has had the operation so that he can arrive fit for day one of pre-season and if he hadn’t had it done then he would have been coming over with a niggle.

“Solomone will be here sooner than we thought and can settle before we start on July 8.”

Funaki will bolster the Dragons’ back row resources along with fellow summer arrival Shane Lewis-Hughes, who can also slot in at lot.

Flanagan is confident that the tough Tongan, who played at last year’s World Cup, will bring the best out of those around him.

“Solomone knows what he can add to us and we have spoken in detail about the role that he can play to free up the likes of Aaron Wainwright to be in their best positions – sometimes he might have to do a bit of the work for him,” said the head coach.

“I would liken him to [fellow Tonga forward Sione] Kalamafoni, who did a lot of the work for Sam Lousi & Co to really excel at the Scarlets.

“We will see that with Solomone at the Dragons, who should help us to see an enhanced Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Harrison Keddie, Ryan Woodman because of that opportunity to play with somebody a bit different.”

Nonetheless, Funaki comes with big ball carrying pedigree.

“When you have his nickname because of the way he plays the game, he is coming with a reputation and I am sure he will want to show that as soon as he arrives,” said Flanagan, referring to the moniker of ‘The Beast’ given to Funaki by Moana Pasifika.