Something is stirring in Gwent - and the bid to land Wales and Lions star Jamie Roberts is part of a bold plan to turn the Dragons from Welsh also-rans to the number one region.

Whether the men from Gwent can achieve that, of course, is another matter entirely.

But former army corporal Dean Ryan, whose appointment as coach was a master move by the Welsh Rugby Union, is quietly overseeing a rugby revolution at Rodney Parade.

The no-nonsense six-times capped England back-rower has bolstered the coaching department and his man-management skills and ambition persuaded Wales star Ross Moriarty to sign a new contract rather than join other suitors

With backing from the WRU and Dragons chairman David Buttress, Ryan has signed Wales Six Nations sensation Nick Tompkins, initially on a season-long loan from Champions Cup holders Saracens, full-back Jonah Holmes from Leicester and Welsh-qualified lock Joe Maksymiw from Connacht.

The hugely experienced Roberts is close to finalising a deal while the Dragons hope to land new Wales lock Will Rowlands from Wasps.

With the likes of Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths, prodigiously talented youngster Taine Basham and Sam Davies already on their books, rugby fans in Gwent finally have something to whet their appetite.

Since Mike Ruddock coached them to a shock third place league finish in their inaugural season of 2003-04, it’s been downhill virtually all the way for the Dragons.

They have finished bottom Welsh region 11 times in the last 13 campaigns, but under Ryan are in line to qualify for next year's Heineken Champions Cup ahead of Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys.

Ryan cuts a hugely impressive figure and it is his drive and know-how that is leading the way.

The former England back-rower guided Gloucester to a top spot finish in the regular English Premiership season and a European Challenge Cup triumph.

He knows what it takes to turn players into winners.

His vast experience also includes spells as boss of Bristol, Worcester and forwards coach of Scotland.

The impressive Dean Ryan

More recently he was the Rugby Football Union’s head of international development between 2016-19 before leaving to accept the most challenging job at regional level in Wales.

But the revolution is well and truly up and running.

Ryan's Dragons are fifth in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14 and have reached the Challenge Cup quarter-finals where they meet Bristol Bears.

But the chase for someone of Roberts' stature indicates the planning has not stopped yet.

Ryan is compiling a Dragons dream team with the potential to challenge to be Wales’ best. Here's how they could soon line up....

15. Jordan Williams

The full-back was likened to All Blacks great Christian Cullen by New Zealand legend Sean Fitzpatrick for his lethal running.

14. Jonah Holmes

Could also be used at full-back and versatile enough to figure at centre, he left Leicester for the Dragons to further his quest for more Wales caps.

13. Nick Tompkins

The centre has proved a sensation in this year’s yet to be completed Six Nations and will vastly improve the midfield cutting edge at the Dragons after signing from Saracens.

12. Jamie Roberts

At 33 his wealth of experience as a go-to man and leader would be perfect for a promising young squad.

11. Ashton Hewitt

Will face competition from one to watch Rio Dyer and Dafydd Howells but will hope to regain his place in the Wales squad if he can bounce back from injury problems.

10. Sam Davies

He has been playing his best rugby in years after being lured to Gwent from the Ospreys by Ryan.

9. Rhodri Williams

Highly-rated dangerous and sniping runner with a nose for the try-line who'll link well in big games with half-back partner Davies.

Front-row

The Dragons have plenty of resources to choose from here, including Wales internationals Leon Brown and Aaron Jarvis amongst the props, as well as South African Brok Harris and teenage recruit Harry Fry.

At hooker Elliot Dee and Richard Hibbard will battle it out for the number two berth.

Locks

The loss of Cory Hill to rivals Cardiff Blues is a huge blow, although injuries restricted his appearances during the reign of Ryan. The Dragons are clearly lighter in this area than other parts of the team.

Ryan has targeted another Wales newcomer in Will Rowlands. Like Tompkins, he made his Test debut during the Six Nations and his potential arrival from Wasps would be a huge fillip, while it will be interesting to watch newcomer Joe Maksymiw.

Matthew Screech has been arguably Wales’ most consistent performing lock in the PRO14 this season.

Back-row

The Dragons can field one of the better back-row combinations in the Welsh game.

Ross Moriarty is a powerhouse, Aaron Wainwright is making huge strides, while Ollie Griffiths and prodigiously talented youngster Taine Basham are class acts.

That back-row is as good as anything in the country.