IDEALLY Toby Fricker would be finishing the Principality Premiership season with Ebbw Vale, preparing for a summer of graft in a bid to make it into the Dragons team.

Instead the winger is now with Bristol, bolstering an impressive squad that are looking to complete their task of avoiding relegation from England’s top flight.

The 23-year-old’s wonderful move to Ashton Gate prompted the predictable jibes about how a prospect had been allowed to slip through the net.

Firstly, if, say, Brodie Retallick was offered the choice of the Dragons in the PRO14 and Bristol in the Premiership, which club do you think he would go for? Why should Fricker, a Welsh-qualified Londoner, be any different?

Secondly, this wasn’t down to the Dragons being blind to Fricker’s ability as there was genuine interest but, just like their regional rivals, they continue to be hindered by Project Reset uncertainty.

And it is the restructuring of professional club rugby in Wales that shows just why the Dragons, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets are at a disadvantage to those over the Severn Bridge.

Project Reset has been caused by the recognition by all parties that there just isn’t enough money to go around.

That means that all teams have to make every penny count and squads can have no passengers. They cannot afford too many gambles.

For evidence of players from the Welsh Premiership being work-in-progress rather than off-the-shelf then look no further than the Dragons’ squad: two signings were made from RGC 1404 last summer and neither has played a minute.

South African centre Tiaan Loots was unfortunate after ripping a pectoral muscle for the A team in September after looking promising in pre-season but Jacob Botica didn’t even get a look-in when there was a fly-half crisis.

There can be rough diamonds in the Premiership but the regions can ill afford to take plenty of punts whereas English budgets mean they have more scope for getting someone in to see if they can cut the mustard.

Hopefully Fricker will go on to be a big success at Bristol, where his game should flourish from working at close quarters with the likes of Charles Piutau, Ian Madigan and Luke Morahan.

But the Dragons have to be realistic about the size of their budget and what is a priority; frankly it would have been a little daft to add another back three player into the mix when there are more pressing matters.

South Wales Argus: BRIGHT PROSPECT: Jared RosserBRIGHT PROSPECT: Jared Rosser

The Dragons have already frequently fielded a pair of youngsters out wide this season in Jared Rosser and Will Talbot-Davies, two 21-year-old prospects that were previously sent for senior experience with the Steelmen.

Added to that are the three wingers who have been with Wales Sevens – Rio Dyer, Joe Goodchild and George Gasson – plus Deon Smith, who scored the last-gasp winner for Wales Under-20s against England last month.

If anything it is experience rather than potential that is needed given that Hallam Amos and Ashton Hewitt are out of contract this summer along with former Springbok Zane Kirchner.

The notion that the Dragons are missing a glut of Premiership talent is a false one, it’s just that work is needed on those who may be able to make the step up.

There isn’t a lack of desire to help turn those prospects into regional regulars, it’s just that financial constraints make it harder for Welsh sides to look to the future while trying to compete in the present.

South Wales Argus: TEAM SCORE: Wales showed great patience in the build-up to Jonathan Davies' tryTEAM SCORE: Wales showed great patience in the build-up to Jonathan Davies' try

SATURDAY is all about a Grand Slam but when Warren Gatland wakes up on Sunday, hopefully with a well-earned headache, the Wales boss will start thinking of Japan.

Even if it is Eddie Jones that opens his eyes to be greeted by the Six Nations trophy, Gatland will know that his side are in great shape for the World Cup.

Gatland’s 31-man squad for Japan is becoming clearer and the pecking order has been established across the field.

The back row remains a tricky one but Wales are in much better nick both in terms of squad depth and performance than they were four years ago.

Twickenham may have been a scene of joy against England but it was despair against Australia and South Africa in crucial games that should have been won.

Wales suffered from an inability to get over the line at key moments but appear to have got rid of their jitters in the 22.

The past two rounds of the tournament provided a pair of cracking Welsh tries with 35 phases leading to Cory Hill going over against England and 23 phases of before the Scottish line was crossed by Jonathan Davies.

Granted, Wales’ try count of nine is disappointing but their line has been crossed just six times, proving their credentials to be the most determined and accurate side out there.

It takes organisation, togetherness and spirit to grind out wins like Wales have done since starting the 13-Test streak.

That they can be 80 minutes away from a Grand Slam yet still have plenty more in them just adds to the excitement about what can be achieved at the World Cup.