FLANKER Aaron Wainwright has signed his first senior contract after a breakthrough season with the Dragons.

The 20-year-old from Rogerstone has been a mainstay of the back row after answering head coach Bernard Jackman’s injury SOS last autumn.

Wainwright has played in 21 of 22 games since he made his professional debut from the bench in the Guinness PRO14 loss to Cardiff Blues in the capital.

The former Bassaleg School pupil, who only took up rugby at 17 with Whiteheads after previously being on Cardiff City’s books as a central midfielder, was supposed to be spending the year learning his trade with Newport RFC in the Principality Premiership after being with Cardiff Met in the Championship last year.

Instead he has been one of the shining lights of a tough campaign at Rodney Parade with his dynamic exploits even catching the eye of Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde.

“I am delighted to get offered a senior contract with the Dragons,” said Wainwright.

“They have helped me develop massively in the time I’ve been with them and hopefully they can help me to continue to grow and develop, so I can add to what they are building on and off the pitch.

“When I was called into the senior squad, I was delighted. I think the future is bright for the Dragons and everyone has bought into what Bernard has set out to do - it’s an exciting time for everyone who’s going on that journey.

“There has been good signs of what’s to come already this year and I think it’s important that we carry on displaying that in games for the rest of the season and as we push into next year.”

He continued: “My goals are to focus on keeping my place in the starting team and help the team to perform well to hopefully get good results and displays.

“I want to develop myself as a player and keep adding good parts to my game to improve my performances which I feel I can do. And realistically I want to be a part of the current change that is happening at the Dragons.”

Jackman is thrilled to have unearthed a gem in Wainwright and believes the prospect will continue to challenge established back rowers Lewis Evans, Ollie Griffiths, Harrison Keddie, Nic Cudd and James Benjamin, plus stellar signing Ross Moriarty.

“Aaron has been the find of the season for us in terms of his development and ability to step up to regional rugby in a position that is incredibly competitive,” said the head coach.

“He is an outstanding athlete who we feel still has a huge amount of potential growth left in him to develop further. We are looking forward to working with him over the coming seasons.”