HEAD coach Ceri Jones says the Dragons will prioritise keeping hold of talent ahead of bringing in fresh blood as soon as he gets the green light over his budget for next season.

The Dragons have a number of leading players out of contract this summer, including Wales wing/full-back Hallam Amos, his fellow speedster Ashton Hewitt and stalwarts Adam Warren, Nic Cudd and Brok Harris.

READ MORE: Amos - Staying at Dragons a definite possibility

The process of thrashing out new deals has been delayed by Project Reset, a new agreement between the four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

The quartet do not have clarity of their budgets for next season, so have had to hold fire before agreeing terms with players.

It is hoped that the WRU and regions will rubber-stamp their new accord this week to allow Jones and his Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets counterparts to crack on with their planning.

"It's incredibly hard and very unusual. In any other year most of the retention is done before Christmas," said caretaker head coach Jones, who has been appointed until the end of the season after the December sacking of Bernard Jackman.

"This year is different with Project Reset, so everyone has had to be more patient than they might normally be.

"Our hands are a little bit tied until the budgets are signed off officially, which should be by the end of the week.

"The players have had to be incredibly patient and it's credit to them how they have been able to focus on on-field events, especially the boys who are out of contract.

"It's difficult because you can't have proper talks with anyone.

"There's no doubt about it, it is going to be a busy couple of weeks for me once it is signed off, but that goes for every other region. Everybody else is in exactly the same situation."

Campaign Series:

Jackman had a busy recruitment drive last summer with 14 new players arriving and a raft of individuals heading for the exit.

It will be more settled in 2019 with Jones' priority being to keep hold of those already on the books before looking at new signings.

"For me it is more about retention of the squad first and looking at recruitment second," said the former prop.

"That's the right way to do it, with players who have been in our squad for a long period of time and who have done the job for you week in, week out on the field.

"There are players being pushed out there by different agents. There is a shopping list and you are looking at it, but my priority would be first and foremost to sort retention out and then look at recruitment off the back of that.

"I am confident and hopeful that we can retain the players that we want to retain and then look at recruitment off the back of that. I am hopeful we can have a strong squad going into next year."