WALES tighthead Leon Brown is set to miss the Dragons’ Boxing Day derby against Cardiff Blues with concussion, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 21-year-old has not played since suffering a blow to the head when winning his third cap against New Zealand in the autumn.

The Dragons had hoped that he would be fit for Tuesday’s derby against the Blues but Brown has not yet passed the return to play protocols.

That leaves Lloyd Fairbrother, who became a father for the first time on Wednesday and hasn’t trained fully this week, in pole position to start at tighthead with on-loan Scarlets prop Nicky Thomas his back-up.

The likely absence of Brown is countered by Fairbrother being in fine form with the 26-year-old having started seven games on the spin.

“Lloyd has been great,” said head coach Bernard Jackman. “We had some pretty frank discussions [earlier in the season] about where his future was heading.

“He has been scrummaging really well and has played 80 minutes twice (against Ulster and Newcastle), which is pretty unusual for a tighthead.

“Lloyd has really got stuck into fitness to get himself into good shape and has listened to the instructions we have given in terms of the systems.

“He is only young for a tighthead and if he keeps going the way he is going then he has a bright future.”

The Dragons are also sweating on the fitness of centre Jack Dixon (groin) with South African Jarryd Sage in line to make his debut at 12 if he doesn’t get the green light.

They have been boosted by the return to fitness of scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, who will battle with teenager Dan Babos for the 9 jersey after suffering a jaw injury at Leinster in November.

Full-back Carl Meyer is nearing a return and could feature for Ebbw Vale against Bedwas in the Principality Premiership this weekend.

Centre Sam Beard (torn pectoral muscle) could be back for the Ospreys derby on New Year’s Eve while back row forward Harrison Keddie (shoulder) is a fortnight away from a return.

Full-back Zane Kirchner, who dislocated his right shoulder against Connacht in September, is eyeing a comeback in late January.

The Dragons name their team for the Blues derby at midday.

l A trio of dedicated match day buses will be running to Rodney Parade for the derby.

The region have joined forces with Zeelo, a travel provider for sports and events, to provide an alternative to limited public transport.

Coaches will run from Chepstow via Caldicot and Magor, Abergavenny via Pontypool, Cwmbran and Blackwood via Risca. They leave Rodney Parade at 4.30pm.

Return tickets cost £5 and do not include entry to the ground. They are available and and tickets will be emailed.


Pick-up: Abergavenny 11.35am – Pontypool–Cwmbran–Newport

Pick-up: Blackwood 11.50am –Risca –Newport

Pick-up: Chepstow 11.40am – Caldicot– Magor– Newport

Drop-off: Rodney Parade approx 12.40pm


Pick-up: Rodney Parade from 4.30pm