THE Dragons pulled the plug on a move for Chris Hollis because they feel the South African back lacks the top-end speed to be a winger.

The 26-year-old played the final three games of the United Rugby Championship, lining up out wide against his former Stormers teammates then playing in the derbies against the Ospreys and Scarlets.

Hollis was brought in on a short-term contract with the expectation that he would remain at Rodney Parade next season.

However, the Dragons announced earlier this month that the rangy 6ft 3ins South African would not be returning for 2024/25.

Head coach Dai Flanagan had previously lauded Hollis’ work ethic and physicality – “he gives us something we haven’t got” – yet the outside back lacks the out-and-out pace the URC strugglers are looking for.

GONE: Chris Hollis played three games for the Dragons in the URC run-inGONE: Chris Hollis played three games for the Dragons in the URC run-in (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Chris is a super man, he worked his socks off after he arrived on a short-term deal and get everything when given opportunities at the end of the season,” said Flanagan.

“I have watched him for years since he played for the Southern Kings and he was someone that I was looking forward to working with.

“He did everything that we asked of him and is a top professional but we want a winger with real gas.

“Chris will probably end up at centre and we have a group of really promising centres that we need to come through.

“We made the decision not to keep him and to save that money in case we need it somewhere else. We just didn’t need another centre.”

The Dragons have three homegrown centres in Aneurin Owen, Joe Westwood and Harri Ackerman plus club captain Steff Hughes and new recruit Harry Wilson, an Australian who can also slot in at full-back.

Flanagan gave Hollis starts on trial at the expense of leaver Sio Tomkinson, who signed off with a brace against the Scarlets at the Cardiff City Stadium Judgement Day.

The head coach has defended the decision to give game time to a South African hopeful rather than exposing a young prospect.

GONE: Chris Hollis on his Dragons farewell against the ScarletsGONE: Chris Hollis on his Dragons farewell against the Scarlets (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“There was nobody who could have played, we were already playing [wing] Ewan Rosser at full-back,” said Flanagan.

“Oli Andrew and Jared Rosser were out injured while David Richards was playing for Newport in the Premiership but is still on the return from a serious injury.

“Harry Rees-Weldon [an academy prospect playing for Ebbw Vale and Wales Under-20s] was not yet ready, so Chris did us a real favour by helping out.”

The Dragons gave debuts to Andrew and Wales Under-20s full-back Huw Anderson last season and will hope they follow the lead of Westwood, who profited from racking up the games in the Premiership with Newport RFC.

Wales winger Rio Dyer, the Rosser brothers and Ashton Hewitt, who is on the comeback trail from ruptured knee ligaments, are the senior options out wide.

Full-back Jordan Williams can also cover there while negotiations are continuing with the rapid Richards, who is also a hugely popular figure with the Black and Ambers.

The Dragons, who return for pre-season training at the start of next month, have made five signings for next season.

They are bolstering the pack with hooker Oli Burrows (Exeter), lock Steve Cummins (Pau), flanker/lock Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff) and back rower Solomone Funaki (Moana Pasifika) while Wilson (Waratahs) adds depth to the backs.

Flanagan is closing in on a fly-half to battle, and share the workload, with Will Reed while a decision will be made on experienced tighthead Dmitri Arhip, who joined for the run-in on a short-term contract.