CHRIS KIRWAN: Plenty of wheeler-dealing needed at Rodney Parade
THE response was X-rated when Harry Redknapp was labelled as a wheeler dealer in a post-match interview back in 2010.
Despite his penchant for transfer dealings the then Tottenham boss told the man with the microphone to "push* off" before uttering "I'm a ruddy* football manager" (*not quite the words used).
The wheeler dealer label may not have been to Redknapp's liking but Newport Gwent Dragons could do with director of rugby Lyn Jones earning such a tag over the coming months.
The region's form in 2014 shows that a fair bit of movement is needed at Rodney Parade and there will need to be plenty of outs before there are the required ins.
That may take time because some players, notably last summer's barely-used recruits Kris Burton and Francisco Chaparro, still have time left on their contracts.
In September lock Ian Nimmo was moved along to London Irish; Lyn Jones could do with replicating that with a number of others that are on the books but not getting any game time.
Slowly but surely the director of rugby must make the squad his own and ideally there would have been a different order to the announcements of those that are heading for Rodney Parade next season.
Full-back Lee Byrne and wing Aled Brew were confirmed as recruits at the turn of the year, followed by loosehead Boris Stankovich then hooker Rhys Buckley and the tight five should be further bolstered in the coming weeks.
The boss knows where the Dragons need strengthening – it would be worrying if anyone in rugby was unable to spot the tight five weakness – and the fact that the two Welsh backs were the first to be announced does not mean that full-back and wing were the management team's priorities.
But that's all in the future; in the present the Dragons need to stop the wheels coming off their season.
Sunday's loss to Connacht was a horror show and it was a performance almost as demoralising as last year's 60-3 home loss to Glasgow.
Jones is also under pressure because at the moment the Dragons' campaign has echoes of London Welsh's 2012/13 campaign.
The Exiles were relegated from the Aviva Premiership after managing to add to their tally of four wins just once after the turn of the year.
Granted, the odds were stacked against Welsh and they did well to force Worcester, Sale and London Irish into some nervous downward glances given their funding disadvantage.
But their form fell off a cliff, as has the Dragons' in 2014. There has been much to admire about the region's season but unless they get their act together they could well finish as bottom Welsh region again and replicate their 11th-place finish.
And that's where the skill lies for rugby coaches – the wheeler dealers must get a tune out of those that know they are heading for pastures new.
AT 3.30pm on Sunday the Newport Gwent Dragons front row replacements were called from the Rodney Parade bench after the starters had been destroyed by Connacht in a painful opening quarter.
At the same time in the East Midlands Boris Stankovich, who will be a Dragons next season, was called from the Leicester bench to great applause and a glowing tribute from BT Sport summariser Ben Kay.
"The two years when he arrived he was far and away the best scrummaging loosehead that Leicester had," said the World Cup winning lock.
"You'd go down behind Boris and you'd expect to come up with a penalty. Every single scrum. He will add a lot to Newport Gwent Dragons in that department."
After the Connacht game that'll do nicely. In fact, get a quality tighthead on board and the pair can stroll around the paddock and have half-time pork pies as long as the Dragons' set piece is sound.
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