TRIALIST Joe Thomas has signed a deal with the Dragons – but boss Dean Ryan insists the centre will just help with match preparations.

The former Wales Under-20s and Ospreys back has been training with the Rodney Parade region since leaving Leicester in the summer.

The 24-year-old has been staying sharp while helping with preparations in Ystrad Mynach and also featured in midfield in friendlies against the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues.

Thomas made a pair of Anglo-Welsh Cup appearances for the Dragons on loan from the Ospreys in 2017, scoring against Northampton and then helping to beat the Scarlets, but Ryan says he is highly unlikely to add to that tally.

The director of rugby insists the contract is to reward Thomas for his efforts rather than add another midfield option.

Free Press Series: DEAL: Joe Thomas in action for the Dragons A teamDEAL: Joe Thomas in action for the Dragons A team

“Joe came and really helped us out when there was potential for lots of A games,” said Ryan, who is likely to lose on-loan Saracens centre Nick Tompkins to Wales duty next month.

“He did that for free and we felt that it was important to stabilise that for him while he helped us out.

“Joe has been fantastic for us in terms of preparing teams, but that isn’t a contract that we are looking to the future with.

“It’s about saying thank you, rewarding and stabilising for a young man who we’d to help with his next step, wherever that is.”

The Dragons are currently without Adam Warren after he suffered a groin injury in the win against Benetton in November.

That has led to Jack Dixon, who is primarily a 12, filling in at 13 but the Dragons will have another midfield option before the end of the season.

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Tom Griffiths has been sidelined since rupturing knee ligaments in a training session against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park last February.

The 25-year-old, who is comfortable at either inside or outside centre, has stepped up his recovery to be involved in team sessions, although a return to action is not imminent.

Griffiths arrived from Saracens in the summer of 2019 but was limited to six outings because of injury.

The Dragons backed the potential of the Welsh-qualified centre by giving him a one-year contract extension while he was recovering.

Griffiths is set to be an option for the end of the PRO14 and fixtures beyond that, whatever form the Rainbow Cup with South African teams takes, but the medical staff will urge a patient approach.

“It was a horrendous injury, so let’s keep his name off the script for a while,” said director of rugby Ryan.

The Dragons are next in action on Friday, February 5 when they entertain Connacht in the Guinness PRO14.