BACK row forward James Benjamin has signed a new Dragons deal that will keep him at Rodney Parade until 2021.

The 23-year-old from Rogerstone has enjoyed a Dragons revival this season under new boss Bernard Jackman, featuring in 13 of 15 possible games.

That comes after Benjamin was frozen out in 2016/17 when he made a solitary appearance, and that only as a late call-up as a replacement because of an injury crisis against Worcester in the European Challenge Cup.

The mobile openside/number eight instead plied his trade for Wales in the World Rugby Sevens Series and with Bedwas in the Principality Premiership.

But rather than staying in the shorter format in the build-up to next year’s Commonwealth Games and World Cup, Benjamin has become a leading figure for the Dragons.

He has produced a string of energetic displays and captained his region for the first time in last month’s Guinness PRO14 loss to Munster in Cork.

The reward for the back rower, who is second in the PRO14 tackle charts with a tally of 126, is a three-year contract extension.

“The Dragons squad is full of talented young players from our region and I’m excited to continue my time with the region by signing a new three-year contract,” said Benjamin, who made his debut against Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup four years ago.

“I’ve enjoyed playing sevens for Wales and whenever you get the chance to represent your country it’s a great honour, but I’m enjoying playing for the Dragons as we face a crucial run of fixtures through December and into the New Year.”

Benjamin was a member of the Wales Under-20s squad that made it to the final of the 2013 Junior World Championship.

He follows fellow home-grown players Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Ollie Griffiths, Jack Dixon and Joe Davies in agreeing contract extensions.

“James is a product of Bassaleg Comprehensive and is one of the most skillful footballers in our region,” said head coach Jackman.

“Having spent last season on the world sevens circuit, it’s important we recognize the role [head coach] Gareth Williams and Wales Sevens played in his development.

“I feel that James has potential for huge further growth as he physically develops. His signing for a further three seasons is a real boost for the Dragons.”