THE Dragons are closing in on their new head coach with former Gloucester and Worcester boss Dean Ryan the frontrunner.

Two ex-England forwards are the two leading candidates to be successor to Bernard Jackman, who was sacked in December, with Ryan vying with former Lions coach Graham Rowntree.

Caretaker boss Ceri Jones held the reins for the second half of the campaign and put himself forward for the top job but is set to miss out, meaning he will return to his role as forwards coach.

Chairman David Buttress conducted the interviews and has made his decision, although nothing is signed and sealed.

South Wales Argus: DECISION: Dragons chairman David ButtressDECISION: Dragons chairman David Buttress

“We’ve interviewed high calibre candidates for the role in what has been a rigorous process,” said Buttress.

“This isn’t a decision we wanted to rush and we haven’t done so, but what has impressed me is the quality of candidates we have spoken to and the potential they see at the Dragons for success.

“I understand supporters are keen to know who will fill the role, but whilst we want to keep supporters informed, we are making sure we get the appointment right and expect to make an announcement shortly.”

Ryan has previously coached Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester and is currently the Rugby Football Union’s director of player development.

He had a short-lived spell as rugby consultant at Rodney Parade at the end of 2012, acting as a sounding board for then head coach Darren Edwards.

However, the former England number eight didn’t last long in the role because he joined the Scotland coaching team.

South Wales Argus: CANDIDATE: Graham RowntreeCANDIDATE: Graham Rowntree

Rowntree, a former England and Leicester prop who is currently Georgia's forwards coach, was also interviewed.

The 47-year-old worked as one of Warren Gatland’s assistants on the tours to South Africa in 2009, Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.

Rowntree was a member of England’s management team between 2007 and 2015 and worked in club rugby at the Tigers and Harlequins.