TIGHTHEAD prop Shaun Knight has signed a permanent deal with Bath – freeing up an overseas player spot for Newport Gwent Dragons.

The 27-year-old from Gloucester headed for the Rec in September on loan after making 21 appearances for the Dragons in 2015/16.

Knight returned to the Aviva Premiership following the summer signing of Craig Mitchell and has featured eight times for the play-off hopefuls.

He had a year left on his contract at Rodney Parade but will now stay over the border until at least 2018.

The Dragons have retained the services of prop Brok Harris, who has signed a two-year contract extension, with the South African backed up by Lloyd Fairbrother, Leon Brown and Wales Under-20s prospect Chris Coleman next season.

Harris and Cornishman Fairbrother, who qualifies for Wales through his mother from Blaenavon, have shared the duties at tighthead this season while Brown has been earmarked as a star for the future.

The 20-year-old from Maesglas, who was invited to join the Wales squad at training in the autumn internationals, made his regional debut against Leicester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November.

He has made four appearances but is currently sidelined after suffering a foot injury playing for Cross Keys in the Principality Premiership.

Coleman, 18, has impressed playing for Newport RFC in club rugby, for the Dragons Premiership Select XV in the British and Irish Cup and off the bench for Wales Under-20s in the Six Nations.

Head coach Kingsley Jones paid tribute to Knight for his exploits last season and believes a permanent Bath deal is the best for all parties.

He said: "Shaun was a pleasure to work with, he is a consummate professional and very good young player.

"However, due to the excellent performances of Brok Harris coupled with the progression and emergence of our other three Welsh-qualified props Lloyd Fairbrother, Leon Brown and young Chris Coleman, future opportunities would be limited.

"Bath is an excellent opportunity for Shaun to play rugby at the top level and we'd like to wish him well for the future."

Knight said: "I'm really happy to have extended my stay at the Club. It's been an extremely enjoyable six months and to be a part of a squad that has the potential of challenging for honours is really exciting."

Knight's departure frees up an overseas spot for next season. Lock Rynard Landman becomes Welsh-qualified in the summer while his compatriots Harris and full-back Carl Meyer follow during the season.

The Dragons are currently looking to finalise deal for players from abroad – Jones has a fly-half/centre, a back three player and a ball-carrying forward top of his wishlist – while vice-captain Nick Crosswell's future is uncertain.

The New Zealander, who joined in January 2015, has been told to hunt for another club with no deal currently on the table.

The participation agreement between the Welsh Rugby Union and the four regions caps overseas players at six with two 'time servers' able to qualify for Wales after three years residency.