Coronavirus: Dragons boss Dean Ryan happy to host Italian side in Pro14

Rodney Parade
Benetton were originally due to visit Rodney Parade on Saturday, 15 February but the Pro14 game against Dragons was postponed by the effects of Storm Dennis.

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan says they have no issues with hosting Benetton despite the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy.

Benetton and Zebre's home Pro14 matches have been postponed because of the illness, as has Italy's Six Nations match in Ireland.

"I can't wait to play, I don't think we have any issues," said Ryan.

The match, now on Friday 6 March, has already been postponed once because of severe weather.

Pro14 games involving Italian sides in the UK rarely attract more than a handful of visiting supporters, unlike the international against Ireland which would have seen thousands in Dublin.

Benetton, who are based in Treviso in the North of Italy, have already played at Cardiff Arms Park shortly after the Italian government imposed a lock-down on several other smaller towns in the Veneto region - but professional football in Italy has been affected by postponements and matches played behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We've never raised it, it's for people in higher positions than me to make decisions about crowds being together," Ryan said

"We'd have to take a government lead in that situation (crowd controls) but we want to play rugby."

Captain Rhodri Williams told BBC Sport Wales: "Hopefully we can fulfil the fixture, it would be good to get it done.

"I don't think (players are worried), our job is the rugby and you can't control the off-field stuff. We're moving in the right direction (with five league victories), but we're not piling pressure on ourselves, it's just about keeping improving."

Ryan is more concerned by the state of the Rodney Parade pitch, which was extremely muddy in the 13-10 win over Cheetahs after weeks of heavy rain, and further hail showers during the match.

It is used by Newport RFC and Newport County as well as the Dragons.

"There's been an unprecedented amount of (bad) weather, and it's for the club to look at what supports this business in the right way.

"That includes the way we play rugby and who is here playing other sports and the revenue that brings in," said Ryan, who is on the Dragons board.

"I'm sure it's a topic that will be discussed... because nobody's happy with that (pitch) even though there a lot of people working incredibly hard to make it as good as (it is)."

Veteran Dragons prop Brok Harris is likely to miss the rest of the season with surgery needed on a chest muscle injury, and former Wales hooker Richard Hibbard is not likely to be risked against Benetton.

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