THE Dragons have retained a third Wales star with dynamism but now value and durability are imperative as some big contract decisions loom.

Dai Flanagan’s squad is taking shape for next season after Taine Basham followed Aaron Wainwright and Rio Dyer in signing a contract extension.

The Rodney Parade club have secured the next generation of talent – they announced eight deals last week – and the departures have started.

Argentina scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou has left for Cardiff on loan until the end of the season, when he looks certain to leave for good along with the likes of Max Clark and Sio Tomkinson.

With money tight, question marks remain over other senior figures…

South Wales Argus: CARRIER: Bradley Roberts on the charge for the DragonsCARRIER: Bradley Roberts on the charge for the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The hooker was a high-profile signing in the summer of 2022 when he agreed to move to Rodney Parade from Ulster to boost his Test hopes.

Like Jonah Holmes before him, that hasn’t really materialised.

The 28-year-old won the last of his five Wales caps against France in the 2023 Six Nations and has seen novice Evan Lloyd taking his first steps on the international stage alongside Elliot Dee and Ryan Elias, with Dewi Lake to return from injury and Sam Parry on the fringes.

Roberts, currently sidelined by a back problem, has been a strong performer for the Dragons but would be unlikely to get the same terms that enticed him from Belfast.

Dee is under contract for next season along with up-and-coming Brodie Coghlan and Sam Scarfe.

James Benjamin, who has made 13 appearances this season with occasional back-row outings, is also approaching the end of his deal and the harsh reality is that he could be kept on for less money than Roberts.

How many hookers do the Dragons need to keep on the books?

South Wales Argus: POWERFUL: Leon Brown is a quality prop but hasn't been available for the DragonsPOWERFUL: Leon Brown is a quality prop but hasn't been available for the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


A fit and firing Brown is comfortably the Dragons’ best tighthead, but that hasn’t really happened since 2019/20.

The 27-year-old from Newport has featured just four times for the Rodney Parade club this season, the same tally as his previous campaign.

That simply isn’t enough and is probably why Brown’s future remains unresolved – if he was racking up the games then the powerful and athletic prop would get big offers from the Dragons and other suitors.

He turned down Exeter last time he was in contract talks and winter talk of Bristol interest has gone quiet, with the Bears signing Lovejoy Chawatama from Harlequins.

Brown suffered an injury in Wales’ Six Nations opener against Scotland and remains one appearance shy of the 25 needed to remain eligible for Test rugby when playing outside of the country, although that selection policy would only capture the prop if he received a credible contract offer from one of the four pro teams.

The tighthead, who has had neck and shoulder issues in recent years, was shown in a Dragons video going hell for leather on a rowing machine this week.

Whether he plays a part in the URC run-in is to be seen and if there is a deal then it has to be good value for the Rodney Parade club, with some element of reward for action.

The Dragons have Lloyd Fairbrother, Chris Coleman and Luke Yendle as other options with Dmitri Arhip playing for a contract for next season after signing on a short-term deal.

South Wales Argus: DEPENDABLE: Sean Lonsdale has been a firm fixture in the Dragons squadDEPENDABLE: Sean Lonsdale has been a firm fixture in the Dragons squad (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Money is tight and the Dragons have re-signed Wales internationals Wainwright and Basham in the back row.

Stalwart Harri Keddie is under contract along with Ollie Griffiths, who will surely be in a similar position to Brown next season after another injury-hit campaign.

Ryan Woodman and George Young are the up and coming options in the back row while George Nott can drop back from lock.

That leaves Flanagan assessing how much is left in the pot when adding to his depth chart.

Lonsdale has been a solid performer since arriving from Exeter in 2022 – an upgrade on fellow blindside/lock Huw Taylor.

The 26-year-old has made 34 appearances over two campaigns and has pretty much always been up for selection, so it would be a risk to allow him to go.

Lonsdale was very good against Zebre Parma last time out and once again value is key, and what would he be deem to be acceptable in a market where there are not options galore for those yet to be signed up?

The same applies for Lydiate if he wants another campaign before devoting himself entirely to the farm.

The 36-year-old, who has played eight times after returning from World Cup duty, still provides oomph and is probably more influential off the pitch when helping to bring through the next generation.

Can the Dragons afford to retain both? Does Flanagan want to retain them or will he add new blood (a scavenger or big ball carrier) in the back row?