NEWPORT Gwent Dragons are set to sign Samoan international Andy Tuilagi on a two-year contract, one of the major players head coach Darren Edwards has been trying to attract to Rodney Parade.

Edwards played with Tuilagi while the pair were at Leeds and has been tracking the centre for the past two months at least, with the aim of getting him to galvanise the mainly young Dragons back division.

The centre, 25 this month, who can also play on the wing, is one of six rugby-playing Tuilagi brothers and has spent the last few years with Sale in the English Premiership.

He has won seven caps and could be part of the Samoan World Cup squad and could even play against Wales, but Edwards is hoping he will be available for the Dragons from the start of the new season.

The Tuilagi brothers are spread over Europe, all of them big powerful men, Henry, the father figure, a thrusting No 8 who has been playing in France for some years and was a force with Perpignan.

Alesana and Manu are both big players for Leicester in their back division, the former a mighty wing and the latter a young centre who got into hot water last season with an assault on England wing Chris Ashton.

Andy, real christian name Anitelea, is another strong man who made his international debut as a teenager six years ago against Scotland.

Tuilagi has been keen to join the Dragons and his release from Sale was negotiated last week, but his arrival at Rodney Parade is mainly dependent on the outcome of a medical examination this week, as he has suffered a broken arm twice in his career.

But he says he has made a full recovery and it is not expected to prove a barrier to him becoming Edwards’ first major signing and one of the Dragons’ best for years.

More are expected, though that could be a year down the road when one or two significant players are out of contract.

Meanwhile, Edwards is currently chasing an international wing from the southern hemisphere, hoping the budget will stretch to one more significant signing in readiness for next season.