THE Dragons are working at finalising a deal to extend the stay of Argentina scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou, who captain Rhodri Williams admits has given him “a kick up the backside”.

Williams has been a key figure at Rodney Parade since signing from Bristol in the summer of 2018, making 61 appearances and being chosen as skipper by director of rugby Dean Ryan.

The 27-year-old has got used to wearing the 9 jersey with Tavis Knoyle and Luke Baldwin battling for the right to be his cover.

However, in February the Dragons brought in Pumas international Bertranou and he has proved to be an instant hit.

The 27-year-old settled swiftly to make six outings, four of them starts, with a deal being finalised to turn the Argentinean’s initial short-term move into a long-term one.

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“We are pushing each other and trying to get the best out of each other,” said Williams. “I have learnt some things from his game… I’m not sure he’s learnt a lot from me, but it’s good!

“Competition is needed at the highest level, you know that if you are not performing then somebody else will step in.

“Gonzalo has definitely pushed me and it’s given me a kick up the backside. That’s positive and it is good that we will be battling it out moving forward.

“We’ve got other scrum-halves pushing us two as well, so we are in a good place.”

In modern rugby, the man who gets the nod at 9 still has a job to do with 21 on his back.

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“Whoever plays gives everything for 50 or 60 minutes and then the other scrum-half comes on and keeps it going,” said Williams.

“You have a job to do of the bench and some of the biggest decisions come towards the end of a game. You have to be ready for that.

“The team are after an 80-minute performance and the way that the game has gone, it’s tough for a scrum-half to play the full 80.

“You need a good bench and at the moment we have some really good depth in the squad.”

Williams, Bertranou, Baldwin and 21-year-old Dan Babos, who hasn’t played a Dragons game since March 2018, are now preparing for the Rainbow Cup (Knoyle is sidelined by a knee injury).

The region start against the Scarlets at Rodney Parade on the weekend of April 23 before a trip to Cardiff and home clash with the Ospreys, followed by four yet to be announced fixtures.

The Dragons finished the PRO14 with wins against the Ospreys, Glasgow and Edinburgh plus tight tussles against leading duo Leinster and Ulster.

They then endured an agonising late loss to Northampton in the European Challenge Cup and the captain is keen to keep pushing on.

“We used to finish for the season on the first week of May but things change! It’s a new competition and one that we can get excited for,” said Williams.

“There are a few weeks to refresh mentally but we want to take the momentum from the end of the PRO14 and positives from the Northampton game into the Rainbow Cup.”