ASHTON Hewitt wants to stay in Wales to earn an elusive first cap – but the winger needs the Dragons to show him a long-term plan before he signs on at Rodney Parade.

The 24-year-old from Newport is out of contract at the end of this season and has attracted the interest of regional rivals.

Hewitt, who is unlikely to play this season because of a shoulder injury suffered with Wales last summer, came through the ranks at the Dragons and made his regional debut in 2013.

He has gone on to become an influential figure on the field with his elusive running and off it with his leadership.

The Dragons are keen to keep Hewitt but uncertainty over both funding through Project Reset, the agreement between the four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union, and a replacement for head coach Bernard Jackman, with Ceri Jones holding the reins until the end of the campaign, has thrown a spanner in the works.

Hewitt would like to stay in Newport – but needs to know how the Dragons plan to turn into a “winning team”.

South Wales Argus: KEY FIGURE: Wing Ashton Hewitt has grown into a leading player for the DragonsKEY FIGURE: Wing Ashton Hewitt has grown into a leading player for the Dragons

“The budget situation and complications behind it is getting frustrating to say the least,” said Hewitt.

“I’d like to stay at the Dragons but I would like to hear a plan. I just need information about what is going on with the re-signing of our core group of players, our recruitment and strengthening of the squad in areas that need it.

“All that is unknown to me, so it’s hard to commit without knowing certain things that will happen over the next two or three years.

“I just want to see something in place, we need to hear about a coach and then we can start talking about their plan.

“Until that happens we don’t know where we are going or what the road is to improvement, because we are in a temporary phase and it’s all short-term goal-setting.

“A lot of people say take it game by game but when it comes to signing a contract, you need to know a long-term plan. Sometimes surprises can’t be helped but a plan is important.

“We have been underachieving for so long, and things behind the scenes have been so up and down that it’s a bit concerning.

“I made my debut at 17 and not a huge amount has changed. We play to win but we have never been a winning team.

“I want to know how we are going to change that because I want to win, the boys want to win, the coaches want to win. We have to come up with something that gets us there, because whatever we have been doing over the past few years hasn’t worked.”

If the Dragons don’t signal their intent then Hewitt would have to move to a Welsh rival in order to play Test rugby.

“It’s the first time in my career that I have come to the end of a contract and had the ability to see what other clubs think of me and whether they rate me, because I have always been tied to the Dragons,” he said.

“I have never had that experience of knowing what other clubs think of me. It’s been good to get some feedback in that area, which gives me confidence.

“It’s not about rushing it, because it’s the first time I have been in this situation. Options are open, I will hear them all and make a decision from there.”

South Wales Argus: TEST HOPES: Ashton Hewitt is confident of breaking back into the Wales squadTEST HOPES: Ashton Hewitt is confident of breaking back into the Wales squad

Hewitt has twice been called up by Wales only for a concussion to dash his Six Nations hopes in 2017 and then a shoulder injury, suffered in a training collision with Dragons teammate Elliot Dee, denied him a place on the tour to face South Africa and Argentina last year.

Warren Gatland had pledged to give every member of his party a chance but the blow means the speedster remains uncapped.

Hewitt has seen Josh Adams, Steff Evans and Jonah Holmes get chances in his absence but backs himself to break into the Test squad.

“That made it more frustrating,” he admitted. “Within the space of an hour I went from being on the training pitch to being sat at home on my sofa with a dislocated shoulder.

“It did hit me hard, because it’s the closest that I have got. When I was in the Six Nations squad and had concussion, it was a massive competition so I didn’t expect to be starting even though I was hoping for a chance.

“They tend to give more opportunities on the summer tour and I felt that I could have played a big part.

“I back myself to get my cap, I back myself to get back in the squad as soon as I am fit and firing after a run of games.

“I think that I have the ability to be in that squad and push for that cap. There is a fair bit of competition and the back three is strong.

“But if I can get myself back in contention and back in that squad then it is only going to improve me as a player. It’s something that I look forward to when I get myself fit.”

Hewitt admits that the chances of earning a spot in the World Cup training squad are now slim – “it’s creeping closer and closer, so unless they are struggling through injuries then I can’t see that happening” – and is concentrating on being sharp for the start of 2019/20.

This month he received the all-clear from his surgeon to step up his rehabilitation after a review of his shoulder.

“He said that it couldn’t be better, my range was better than expected, that the x-ray was perfect and that there is not any cause for concern,” said Hewitt.

“It’s a massive confidence boost because last time around it was the final scan, late in my recovery, that I found out the operation had failed.

“Now it’s time to start ramping up the rehab and get strong and fit to be ready to play when the time comes.

“From previous shoulder injuries I have come back faster because you just hammer the legs and do all the speed work.

“I am just happy to be on the road to recovery. I don’t need to see the surgeon again unless a problem arises, so I am buzzing.”