4:09pm Tuesday 7th January 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons boss Lyn Jones has confirmed that the Rodney Parade region are closing in on Wales aces Lee Byrne and Aled Brew – but the deals have not yet been signed.
Full-back Byrne and wing Brew are poised to head to Newport from French clubs Clermont Auvergne and Biarritz respectively.
It would be a coup to snap up the pair but the Dragons are also looking to strengthen their squad elsewhere, notably in the front row.
"We are building a team and a squad for bigger things next season," said director of rugby Jones.
"Recruitment is critical to any business. If you get things wrong you are in for a long season.
"There are rumours of those two players. I can't confirm that (they have signed) although I will confirm we have been in discussions with them and we hope to resolve it one way or another over the next few days."
Byrne, 33, has been one of the few Welsh success stories in France since heading to the Stade Marcel Michelin from the Ospreys in 2011 and is still one of the best full-backs in Europe.
Brew, 27, has found things a tad tougher since heading to the Top 14 from the Dragons at the end of the 2011/12 campaign but remains a huge favourite at Rodney Parade.
The powerhouse winger's tally of 43 tries is a regional record (Gareth Wyatt lies second on 29) and his return would add spark to a Dragons attack that has failed to hit the heights this term with the whitewash crossed just 15 times in 12 league games.
However, the arrivals of Byrne and Brew would also necessitate a departure or two.
This season the Dragons have fielded Dan Evans, Tom Prydie, Matthew Pewtner, Will Harries, Hallam Amos, Adam Hughes, Ross Wardle, Rhys Jones and Ashton Hewitt in the back three.
The region will also be looking to bring in some more muscle up front as the scrum has remained their Achilles heel; a seasoned prop will be top of their wish list.
Last summer's recruitment, which was done prior to Jones' arrival, has largely been a success.
Scrum-half Richie Rees and back row forward Netani Talei have done well while hooker Rhys Thomas has been a hit despite missing three months with an ankle injury.
Argentine tighthead Francisco Chaparro has mixed good moments with bad – as was expected given the 24-year-old is young in propping years – but former Italy fly-half Kris Burton has hardly featured and South African lock Martin Muller never arrived.
Fly-half Jason Tovey returned from Cardiff Blues after Jones' arrival and has been superb while young locks Matthew Screech and Cory Hill, brought in at the expense of Ian Nimmo, have shown great promise.
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