BERNARD Jackman had a busy and productive recruitment drive to build his Dragons squad for 2018/19 but the head coach will already be mulling over arguably the most important piece of his jigsaw.

Fourteen new faces are on the books for the coming campaign, seven forwards and seven backs, and the result is one of the strongest squads for years.

On paper at least, the Dragons have a strong first-choice XV from Hallam Amos down to Brok Harris while the depth chart is fuller with deputies ready to not merely stand-in but challenge for the jersey.

There are a wealth of back row options, it would be a keen contest between a front row of Harris-Elliot Dee-Leon Brown and a trio of Ryan Bevington-Richard Hibbard-Aaron Jarvis, while it promises to be quite the tussle between new boy Brandon Nansen, currently on Samoa duty, Rynard Landman, Matthew Screech and Joe Davies to be captain Cory Hill's second row partner.

Yet Jackman would undoubtedly have liked 14 new boys to be 15.

For all the improvements made to the Dragons' team they still lack a stand-out fly-half, an experienced game controller capable of winning the key moments.

Jackman is sure to have a 10 at the top of his wishlist for the next recruitment drive and all of his current candidates will know that.

The Dragons will continue to keep a close eye on Owen Williams at Gloucester, seeing whether the Wales international joins forces with Danny Cipriani or gets frustrated as his back-up.

If Williams is a non-starter then the management are certain to have their feelers out for another fly-half, an overseas one if needs be at the start of a new World Cup cycle.

That means that the fly-halves already on the books cannot afford to waste the opportunities that they will get in 2018/19.

At this stage, with Arwel Robson still recovering from a summer operation and Gavin Henson set to operate primarily as an inside centre, it appears that Josh Lewis is in pole position to have 10 on his back when the Dragons kick off their season in just seven weeks' time (any chance of some fixtures, Guinness PRO14?).

Lewis was a player of promise over two spells with Ebbw Vale, the first earning a chance with the Scarlets and the second a crack at Bath.

The 26-year-old from Merthyr returns to Wales from the Rec on a two-year deal after what will have been an invaluable experience in the west country.

Although Bath endured a tough campaign of underachievement, Lewis got to see how Rhys Priestland and Freddie Burns operate at close quarters and worked in a first-class environment at the plush Farleigh House alongside the likes of Taulupe Faletau, Luke Charteris, Francois Louw, Kahn Fotuali'i, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson.

The fly-half is no whippersnapper but, after making just 13 appearances for the Scarlets and six for the Blue, Black and Whites, this is the former stonemason's first real crack at showing he is a pro.

The same applies for Jacob Botica, the 25-year-old who has earned an opportunity thanks to his displays for RGC 1404.

The leap from the Premiership to professional rugby is a huge one and it will be a big ask for the Wigan-born fly-half to control matters calmly in a faster game.

RGC coach Mark Jones says that Botica is a cool operator under pressure and the son of former All Black Frano will need to be.

The final of the hopefuls has something of a head start thanks to chances in what was a challenging season.

Robson, now 21, made 12 appearances and showed glimpses of class mixed in with some understandable howlers.

The plan had been to blood the prospect with Henson at inside centre only for the former Wales and Lions star to have his season ended by a hamstring injury.

That denied Robson the presence of an experienced voice on his outside – something exacerbated when Jack Dixon's injury led to novice Connor Edwards being flung in – and he was pulling the strings in a team devoid of confidence.

Yet the way that the former Wales Under-20s fly-half shouldered the responsibility for an attempt at a long-range penalty to take the spoils in Treviso was encouraging. That it was too ambitious and fell short was disappointing but at least Robson didn't hide or pass the buck.

The prospect from Penallta will have to press on in the coming campaign and the same is the case for Lewis and Botica. If they don't then they risk enduring life on the outside, just like Angus O'Brien and Dorian Jones last season.

At the moment, Henson remains the safest pair of hands but the playmaker is set to be primarily an inside centre in the coming campaign.

The 36-year-old does still have the tendency of playing a little deep when he is at 10 but remains a glorious passer and it will be telling if Jackman turns to the veteran to pull the strings.

The trio need to make sure that doesn't happen by shining brightly.

Doing so will not convince Jackman that he doesn't need a big-name 10 but Robson, Lewis and Botica face an important season of scrapping in the pecking order to be the man that the new recruit will displace.