DEAN Ryan believes Leon Brown will be a scrum "weapon" for the Dragons courtesy of having the openness to tackle his shortcomings head on after his World Cup anguish, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 22-year-old from Maesglas suffered disappointment when he missed Warren Gatland's final cut for Japan 2019.

The Dragons tighthead had a solitary chance to stake a claim for a World Cup spot but was sin-binned after being given a torrid time by Ireland at the scrum in Cardiff.

Brown returned to his region and reaped the rewards of set-piece tinkering with a strong display in the Guinness PRO14 opener at Munster.

The Dragons were downed 39-9 at Thomond Park but director of rugby Ryan was pleased with the scrummaging performance, and especially his six-times capped tighthead.

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"Our scrum was great and Leon Brown was great," said Ryan. "He has attracted a lot of headlines but people should look at that performance and see that is a weapon coming forward for the Dragons."

"The first thing that has impressed me is how open he has been," he continued. "I don't know the answers, because I'm not a scrum coach, but I did ask him to look at doing things differently because it was pointless carrying on doing the same things.

"We have tried to just spend some time looking at what will happen if we change a few things. To have somebody who is playing international rugby be open enough to then try and bring that into a PRO14 game (is great).

"Sometimes an international has more to lose because of their status than somebody who is breaking into the team.

"I am really pleased for him because that looked a really big scrum, and it looked something that will only go in the right direction.

"I am really pleased for Leon because there has been a spotlight on him and not being picked for a World Cup is difficult. We all know what he can do, but you have to scrum first."

The Dragons saw their winless streak on the road in the PRO14 stretch to 45 games in Limerick but have another chance to end the hoodoo at Zebre on Saturday.

After being outmuscled in the Limerick rain, when they were kept tryless despite plenty of pressure in the 22, Ryan knows the tussle up front will be key.

"Zebre will be a pretty physical. They are a big Italian side, so that's a challenge and there isn't a simple answer," he said.

"If it's raining and the pitch is heavy then it's a challenge we have got to work out how we can be better in those areas, because we can't run away from it and go and play a game that only turns up in the sunshine."