BERNARD Jackman says the Dragons will pull out all the stops to secure a new contract with speedster Ashton Hewitt despite a shoulder operation that could make his season a write-off.

The 24-year-old speedster from Newport faces a battle to play in 2017/18 after having a reconstruction of his right shoulder.

Hewitt first went under the knife after suffering the blow with Wales last summer ahead of their Tests against South Africa and Argentina, denying him the chance to win his first cap.

He was targeting an autumn comeback but that has now been moved back to spring at the earliest.

The winger has been a leading figure for the Dragons in recent seasons – especially in 2015/16 when he won Argus player of the year – and has 21 tries in 72 appearances.

However, he is out of contract this summer and his past exploits mean his is on the radar of regional rivals.

"We 100 per cent want to keep Ashton, we really love him and want to tie him down to a new contract," said head coach Jackman.

"We know that he is going to come back from this, so we will treat contract negotiations like we would have if we playing, and playing really well."

"It's disappointing for us as a team but we are more concerned about Ashton," continued Jackman.

"We are gutted for him and conscious that we need to look after him by rehabbing him back and also looking after him mentally as well.

"It happened to him in the last day of Wales' training camp before the summer tour where he probably would have won his first cap.

"He will be very diligent in his rehab after the reconstruction. It's tough on him but he is diligent and young, so he will bounce back."

The loss of Hewitt deprives the Dragons of one of their most potent attackers with the ability to create something out of nothing but Jackman says they will also be denied the speedster's defensive organisation.

"We'll miss him a lot because when Ashton is on the field you always feel that he can finish opportunities or make things happen when the opposition's defence is organised," said the head coach.

"We've also missed him as a leader and he is a very good communicator who is loud in the back field. He makes everyone else defend better.

"But you need a strong squad because of injuries and this is now an opportunity for someone else."

The Dragons signed full-back Jordan Williams and wing Dafydd Howells last summer to join Wales international Hallam Amos, ex-Springbok Zane Kirchner, Jared Rosser, Will Talbot-Davies and George Gasson as back three options along with centre Adam Warren.