CHE Hope and Morgan Lloyd have been challenged to push their way into the first team at the Dragons after being rewarded for fine form in the Premiership with new contracts.

The pair of former Wales Under-20s internationals have signed fresh two-year deals that will keep them at the club until at least 2026.

The 21-year-olds are set to move up the pecking order next season to battle with Rhodri Williams and Dane Blacker for the 9 jersey.

Argentina international Gonzalo Bertranou is currently on the books but has featured just two times this season due to the World Cup and injuries.

His contract expires this summer and so does Lewis Jones’, with the former Cardiff scrum-half a fringe figure with a single outing in the current campaign.

With money tight, the Dragons are looking for Hope and Lloyd to take their form with Newport and Pontypool into professional rugby.

South Wales Argus: PROSPECTS: Morgan Lloyd on the run for Pontypool with Newport's Che Hope in pursuitPROSPECTS: Morgan Lloyd on the run for Pontypool with Newport's Che Hope in pursuit (Image: NCR Photography)

“We look forward to seeing Che and Morgan continue their progress and push senior figures in our squad for more action in the coming seasons.,” said head coach Dai Flanagan.

Hope has already featured for the Dragons and scored a try on his debut against the Lions in Johannesburg in November 2022.

He has made four appearances, the latest off the bench at Glasgow in February, while he has made great strides with Newport in the Premiership.

The rapid scrum-half from Hollybush has prospered thanks to competition at the title-chasing Black and Ambers with Dafydd Buckland and Luke Crane.

Hope has scored seven tries in 17 appearances this season, many of them with Dragons backs coach Matt O’Brien as his half-back partner, and has caught the eye of Flanagan.

South Wales Argus: Dragons scrum-half Che HopeDragons scrum-half Che Hope (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The head coach said: “Che is an exciting prospect who regularly looks the best player on the park when he features in the Indigo Group Premiership.

“Che has had exposure at senior level for Dragons, including this season with our trip to Glasgow Warriors, and he has been around the set-up as a travelling reserve on several occasions.

“What is important for his development now is game time and playing week in and week out.”

Lloyd has also profited from an emphasis on time in the middle with Pontypool – this season he has scored nine tries in 17 games, including a hat-trick against champions Llandovery.

The former Wales Under-20s international is yet to make his Dragons debut but has recently taken part in pre-match preparations as a travelling reserve.

South Wales Argus: Morgan Lloyd in training with the DragonsMorgan Lloyd in training with the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Flanagan said: “Morgan is a talented and very driven young man who has benefitted from a full season at Pontypool and who has caught the eye with his performances.

“Because of injuries his game time has been limited in recent seasons, but now he’s involved in a season where he will be pushing 20 games, and he has kicked on and shown his potential as a result.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how Morgan continues to develop by playing more senior rugby and being a part of our environment.”

Deals with the two scrum-halves were announced the day after contract extensions with centres Harri Ackerman and Joe Westwood, who are also going to go up the depth chart in 2024/25.

More announcements with the club’s next generation will be made on Thursday and Friday.