Dragons extend contracts for youngsters

Newport Gwent Dragons can confirm that they have extended the contracts of nine youngsters from the Men of Gwent, whilst also securing Welsh International powerhouse Craig Mitchell.

Mitchell, who joined Cardiff Blues in 2014 from Exeter Chiefs, has won 15 caps with Wales. His debut for the national team was during the summer tour of North America and Canada in 2009. He scored his first international try against Ireland in February 2013. 

In addition to the signing of Mitchell, the Dragons coaching team have secured young talented locks Cory Hill and Matthew Screech. Whilst flankers Ollie Griffiths and James Benjamin have also put pen to paper. Both Hill and Screech joined the squad during the 2013/14 season and have made over 50 appearances each for the Welsh Region. Flankers Griffiths and Benjamin progressed through the Dragons Academy and age grade sides. The Gwent born players have turned heads during stints in the Welsh Premiership, with Griffiths being named as Newport RFC captain during their 2014/15 campaign. The youngsters also have international honours through playing for Wales U20s.

Exciting winger Ashton Hewitt has also extended his contract with the Dragons. The Newport born player came through the age-grade ranks of the Dragons playing for the U16s and U18s, whilst also making appearances for Premiership teams Newport RFC and Cross Keys. The 21-year-old has caps from Wales U20s and made his international age-grade debut against Ireland U20s in Feburary 2013.

Fly-half Dorian Jones has also put pen to paper recently after signing a contract extension with the Region. The 23-year-old joined the Dragons during the season of 2013/14. Prior to his time with the Region he was part of Premiership side Cross Keys.

In addition to these signings recently capped Wales Under 20s winger George Gasson has pledged his future with the Region alongside youngsters Keagan Bale and Connor Edwards.

Newport Gwent Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones commented: “Craig was right up there in the Wales pecking order only a few years ago and is not too old. He has been unlucky with injuries but has a lot to prove.

“He still thinks that he has something to offer Wales and wants to put his hand up. He is saying all the right things and we want to give him that chance, but he have to fight for a Dragons place first.

“We’ve got four tight heads but it’s a critical position. We’ve been really lucky that Brok, who is also an option at loosehead, has been both fantastic and durable. “I’ve felt a bit for Shaun and Lloyd, I’ve tried to rotate them on the bench to keep them involved because they’ve been excellent, then there is Leon coming through. 

He added: "Ashton Hewitt, Matthew Screech, Ollie Griffiths, James Benjamin, Dorian Jones, Leon Brown, Harrison Keddie, Cory Hill, George Gasson, Keagan Bale and Connor Edwards have all committed until 2019 or 2020.

"We have all seen the young players we have. They have massive potential, we need to keep them here until they have reached their full potential."

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