THE Dragons players aren’t the only ones being told to up their game – skills coach Barry Maddocks says the management team are being challenged about where they can improve by the squad.

It has been a tough start to the season for the Rodney Parade region, who lost to Newcastle in the European Challenge Cup before enduring a Guinness PRO14 derby whitewash over the festive period.

Things don’t get any easier tomorrow evening with a must-win clash against Bordeaux-Begles, and the Dragons go there after a rocket from boss Bernard Jackman last weekend.

The head coach slammed their performance in the 47-13 loss at the Scarlets and demanded they show more fire to keep their European quarter-final hopes alive.

But Maddocks, who arrived at the Dragons from Bath in August, says it’s not one-way traffic with the players taking all of the blame.

“What we are trying to grow is an environment where we are open with each other,” he said.

“We have had really good meetings this week and players have led a lot of them, we are starting to get them to challenge more of each other as a peer group.

“I was surprised to come into an environment when you talked about things and there is absolute silence, nobody has an opinion about anything or says anything.

“We are trying to encourage that [debate] and grow it from within. It’s the guys having professional conversations, which are different to personal conversations, based on being open and honest.

“The boys have been honest with feedbacks to us, which is great because we can make the adjustments.

“In general people have an end of year review, but you can’t really do anything with an end of year review, it’s too late almost.

“So what we are trying to do is have the ability all through the year where the boys can question and challenge us, which grows us as a coaching group. It’s a two-way thing.”

The players and management have turned their attention to plotting the downfall of Bordeaux-Begles, their rivals for the Pool One runners-up spot.

The Dragons endured a tough time up front in Llanelli and expect to be taken on in the tight by the French side, and in the return tie a week Saturday.

“Their pack is extremely strong and they are a very powerful unit that dominate in the lineouts and scrum,” said Maddocks.

“They like to play a territory game to get their pack going forward and they play an around the corner style of game. We are expecting a physical confrontation, for sure.

“They have some talent out wide but their strength is up front and they will come for us with their power game.

“It’s no secret that the French league is a power-based game with big packs dominating territory so we will be looking to play an expansive game.”