NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have awarded senior deals to six bright teenage prospects.

Back row forward Harri Keddie, props Leon Brown and Keagan Bale, centre/wing Barney Nightingale and wing Lloyd Lewis all featured for Wales in June's World Rugby U20 Championship and have been joined in penning deals by fly-half Arwel Robson, who played international rugby at under-18 level last season.

They have committed to the Rodney Parade club until 2019 and the sextet will get chance to brush shoulders with and learn off Lyn Jones' senior squad in the coming campaign.

Academy manager James Chapron said: "It's the first big step for these players in their professional rugby careers and a great opportunity for them.

"These players have been proven performers at age grade and Premiership level and it is good to see their hard work paying off.

"The next challenge for them is to begin the transition over the next 12 to 18 months from academy into senior professional players.

"It is great motivation for the rest of the players in the academy to see what can be achieved and the opportunities that exist within our region."

Nightingale made five senior appearances as a replacement last season and the 18-year-old from Chepstow will hope to add to that tally this term while number eight/blindside Keddie appears next best placed to make the step up.

The 19-year-old from Llanvaches was a key figure of the Wales Under-20s side last season and also caught the eye while helping Ebbw Vale finish as runners-up in the Principality Premiership.

All six will continue to gain experience in club rugby and, potentially, in the British and Irish Cup with director of rugby Jones hoping they can follow in the footsteps of three recent success stories.

He said: "It's fantastic to see these youngsters make the transition from our academy into the senior squad.

"All of these players are local Gwent lads and they have proven their talent throughout their time with the academy.

"Dragons Academy products Hallam Amos, Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon were recently selected for the for the Wales extended Rugby World Cup squad, so it's proving that we are doing something right here at the region."