WELSH Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips has welcomed the Dragons’ recruitment of home-grown talent and he’s confident that they can generate the money needed to fund their spending spree.

Richard Hibbard this week became the latest Welsh star to seal a move to Rodney Parade for next season, joining Ross Moriarty, scrum-half duo Rhodri Davies and Rhodri Williams and utility back Jordan Williams.

Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman has said he wants 12 recruits for next season and has also been linked with moves for George North, Ryan Bevington and even Australian star Quade Cooper.

The influx of stellar signings for the 2018-2019 season follows the WRU takeover of the region earlier this year and has provoked some criticism from fans of the Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets.

But Phillips says the takeover was essential for the future of Welsh rugby.

“There’s been a bit of chat about the Dragons takeover – was it fair? – and so on,” said Phillips.

“The reality was; if we didn’t do it our income drops by a quarter.

“Our broadcasting income, our competition incomes drop straightaway because it’s three entities not four, and we lose the derbies.

“It would have been a bit of a problem and it’s tough enough with four entities to help to field Welsh teams. To go to three would have made that almost impossible.

“What we’d like to have is an even distribution of call-ups across the four in time.”

The WRU is fully supportive of the Dragons recruitment drive and Phillips is confident that the region’s new chairman, Just Eat founder David Buttress, can generate the money needed to fund it.

“A lot of the stuff you’ve seen around recruitment I’m not particularly involved with,” he said.

“Some of the sensational headlines about who they might recruit is interesting but they actually haven’t recruited any non-Welsh players up to now.

"Our only influence is to say that’s the model that we’d like you to work to, that is our expectation.

“In terms of how are they affording it, clearly none of that is this year because the squad this year is the same as last year.

“Next year is where they potentially have to find a bit more money.

“But the year-end for that is 18 months away. Dave Buttress has signed up to a squad-spend that he thinks he can deliver through improved commercial activity.

“He’s got 18 months to deliver on that and on the basis that he grew a business that’s worth more than Marks & Spencer then I’m fairly confident he’s got the know-how to do that.

“We’ve got to trust him that he can do that and then they can [continue to] recruit and try to get incrementally better next year.”

Phillips continued: “It’s all very interesting but ultimately it’s a performance business and you have to win on the pitch.

“I’m genuinely not that involved but I would say that they’re heading in the right direction.

“I’d say next year you’d like to think they’d improve on the pitch and the year after.

“They need to get into that sustainable model but I’m not getting carried away with it.”

Phillips also revealed that all four regions have expressed an interest in signing Wales wing North, who will return home next season after signing a national dual contract.

The Scarlets will have the first chance to talk to North but the player and region will both need to sanction the move.

Phillips expects a decision to be made early in 2018.