THE Dragons are already plotting their next recruitment drive with chairman David Buttress pledging to boost head coach Bernard Jackman's spending power.

The Rodney Parade region have been active ahead of 2018/19 with 14 new players coming in and 19 leaving.

Jackman has a budget for his squad of just over £4million and has used it to snap up Lions back row forward Ross Moriarty, Wales internationals Rhodri Williams, Richard Hibbard and Aaron Jarvis and Samoa lock Brandon Nansen.

They were also interested in Gloucester playmaker Owen Williams, who has two seasons left to run on his current contract, but the Wales fly-half/centre is staying at Kingsholm for now.

"I was delighted with the recruitment – I would have taken this if you'd said a year ago that we would have got Moriarty, Hibbard, Rhodri Williams… we would have liked to have got one more but it didn't happen and we move on," said Buttress.

"We are already working on the budget for 2019/20 and I have had preliminary discussions about that with Bernard.

"We are already making plans for what the recruitment needs to look like so that we are in the best possible shape.

"We recruited quite early last year, which was the right thing to do and we will try and do similar again. Our budget has gone up several hundred thousand pounds."

However, the Dragons still lag behind their rivals and Buttress wants to cut that gap, driving up income thanks to more commercial revenue and gradual improvement on the field.

"What shocked me coming into Welsh rugby was the difference between the Dragons' budget and everybody else's," he said.

"[Our] supporters and other teams' supporters are judging us by the same standards but looking at the numbers it was like comparing a Championship team's budget to one in the Premier League.

"I was genuinely shocked how far we were behind the other regions, and we continue to be behind.

"That is largely driven by the fact that the distribution model for Welsh rugby meant the Dragons were the poor relation and were that over a long period of time. That created a self-fulfilling prophecy that we invested the least in the playing squad over a long period of time.

"We are addressing that, but it is going to take several years to put it right. I don't like talking about the long term to supporters too much because understandably they pay their money and expect us to win week in, week out.

"I get that – I hate losing as much as the next person – but we have to be realistic and are turning a ship that has been underinvested for a magnitude of years and has a significantly lower budget than the other regions.

"But for the first time we are investing several hundred thousand pounds more in the playing budget and have brought in some really good players.

"Should supporters expect results to get better? Absolutely they should, but I would hope they understand we will continue to try and lift the playing budget over the next two or three seasons to get to a place where we can be really competitive.

"That's why I am already talking to Bernard about 2019/20 because we can only do that if we are really being detailed and thorough in our planning for the next three years, not for the next six months."