CARETAKER boss Ceri Jones has been appointed as head coach of the Dragons until the end of the season.

The former Wales prop has been holding the reins since Bernard Jackman was sacked at the start of December and will continue while the Rodney Parade region search for a permanent successor.

Jones will now be responsible for dealing with contract negotiations with the Dragons players whose deals expire in the summer and has earned the extended chance after a promising start to life in the hotseat.

The forwards coach helped the Dragons enjoy an upturn in performances with battling displays in defeat to French giants Clermont Auvergne and Cardiff Blues, when denied a draw with the last kick after playing for an hour with 14 men, before they ended their four-year PRO14 derby drought by beating the Ospreys.

They then fought hard in the loss at the Scarlets before putting Timisoara Saracens to the sword on Friday.

"The way that Ceri has conducted himself over the past month has been exemplary," said chairman David Buttress. "It will give ourselves a chance to run a full process and we won't rush that.

"Three things have stood out with Ceri, and first and foremost it has been down to results and performances.

"The truth is that they were not good enough relative to the quality of our squad over a period of several months and under Ceri there has been a dramatic improvement.

"Secondly, it's the way that he has led internally and handled himself when leading the region in a difficult period.

"He has shown a tremendous amount of dignity, leadership and strength of character. His values have shone through and I have been super impressed.

"Lastly, Ceri knows this region and has that connection. That gives him a lot of credibility with the players."

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Buttress has not ruled out Jones getting the top job if the 41-year-old from Usk wants it and impresses between now and April.

"Ceri is going to want to focus on the next four or five months but we will see how it develops and we will have conversations with him," said the chairman.

"He has been so focused on the team that we haven't been able to discuss anything like that in depth, but I'd say there is nothing on or off the table and we will have those conversations in the coming months."

The Dragons have had over 20 applications to succeed Jackman – "some really big names that people would recognise quickly" – and Buttress has sought the advice of his Scarlets counterpart Nigel Short.

The west Walians brought in Wayne Pivac in 2014, initially as assistant, and repeated the process last summer when he was appointed Wales head coach, opting for another New Zealander in Brad Mooar.

"We had a couple of really interesting options that are still there but it quickly became apparent that we had a good interim option and there was no need to rush the process," said Buttress.

"I would prefer to do a thorough search, like the Scarlets did. We will take our time and do the diligence to therefore have a higher confidence that we are making the right decision.

"We are looking for someone who, given our business plan for the next couple of years, has a great track record of developing young players.

"Secondly, they need to have fantastic man management because we will need to get the maximum performance out of our squad, because it is going to be lighter than others.

"Thirdly, they will need that ability to build and come on a journey with us, which is something that the Scarlets did with Wayne Pivac.

"For them it was about getting someone they felt really understood what the region needed to build over three or four years.

"That resonates and I will lean towards the sort of person that wants to build with us, build their career and be hungry for that journey and success."