NEW deals with World Cup stars Rio Dyer and Aaron Wainwright are the Dragons’ priority as they prepare for another round of cost-cutting.

The Rodney Parade club will operate with a budget of £4.5million next season – a figure that must include match fees and win bonuses plus the basic salary – and retaining top talent will be their most pressing concern.

Winger Dyer and back row forward Wainwright are out of contract next summer along with Wales tighthead Leon Brown.

The Dragons are helped by the Welsh Rugby Union’s selection policy when it comes to holding onto Dyer; the speedster currently has 14 caps so is short of the 25 needed to remain eligible after moving to a club outside Wales.

South Wales Argus: Dragons back rower Aaron Wainwright on the charge for Wales at the World CupDragons back rower Aaron Wainwright on the charge for Wales at the World Cup (Image: Press Association)

However, Wainwright is on 43 international appearances and the athletic back row forward is sure to be on the radar of big-spenders.

Brown is two shy of being able to play outside Wales and the Dragons need to assess whether they can afford to carry a player with his injury record.

The prop is unquestionably a quality player but has made just 23 club appearances in the last four seasons.

“We are talking to multiple people now,” said head coach Dai Flanagan. “It was brilliant seeing Munster putting out their re-signings so early [this week] and when we get things done we will share it straight away.

“We have started negotiations with agents and would like to get the majority done ASAP.”

Key figures scrum-half Rhodri Williams and fly-half/full-back Angus O’Brien are among those coming to the end of deals while decisions must be made regarding Argentina scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou and outside back Sio Tomkinson, who was a high-profile signing in the summer of 2022.

South Wales Argus: Dragons wing Rio Dyer is a rising star with WalesDragons wing Rio Dyer is a rising star with Wales (Image: PA)

On the Wales internationals, he said: “We need to make sure they are the priority, then we will move through our squad.

“It will be tough, there are no secrets about that. We took almost £1million off our budget last year and have to take around £700,000 off this year.

“There are players in this region that we have to keep, and we are working extremely hard to do that.”

Flanagan worked with Rob Burgess in his first season in the hotseat but the head of recruitment has left for Bath.

That leaves the Dragons with a skill shortage in the area of squad-building, although the head coach is helped by one of his predecessors being back on board.

Ampthill head coach Paul Turner is working as a part-time consultant at the Rodney Parade club and had a Zoom meeting with Flanagan while the Dragons are in South Africa.

“There is some stuff going on that we will use Paul for,” said Flanagan. “He can meet people and discuss things, while he is constantly sending clips of Championship players he has liked for years.

“Paul is quite active in that and it’s been refreshing with the amount of agents reaching out regarding players that want to come to the UK, and there is a lot of young talent out there that is Welsh-qualified.”