AFTER the new boss had enthusiastically talked about the challenges ahead at a press conference at a sunny Rodney Parade, the subject eventually turned to dessert.

Bernard Jackman's banning of cakes at Grenoble provided amusement on that day in June, 2017, and the proof was in the pudding when it came to the Irishman's reign in Newport.

The promises, pledges and lofty targets were left unfulfilled; the head coach was given the push in December halfway into his three-year deal.

Jackman was the latest boss to struggle to make headway, failing to conjure something with the bad hand that Dragons bosses are dealt.

Not since Paul Turner's reign has the top man – whether it's with head coach or director of rugby written on their door – really had sustained success.

Lyn Jones had his moments, winning eight games in 2014/15 to finish above Cardiff Blues, but largely the bosses have headed to the exit shaking their head at the madness of Rodney Parade, at the penny-pinching and being asked to go to a gun fight with a Super Soaker.

Dean Ryan is the latest to have a crack and his unveiling on Tuesday had a similar feel to two years ago; the historic ground looked a picture in the sunshine, the white Newport City footbridge bridge poking above the Rodney Parade stand, clear against the blue sky, just as it had when Jackman sat in between Stuart Davies and Martyn Phillips at the top table.

South Wales Argus:

But the press conference was much different, and not just because nobody wanted to know his thoughts on whether crème brulee will be allowed on the menu at Ystrad Mynach.

Ryan made few, if any, promises about what was to come. There were no grand proclamations about changing the pecking order of Welsh pro rugby and thankfully there was nothing said about Gwent being a 'sleeping giant'.

There was a sense of realism about it all, even if that didn't provide too many soundbites for all of us in the media.

Ryan stated that his first task is to listen and that he has learnt from his past experiences when he has gone in and hastily made dramatic changes to put his stamp on things.

One imagines that the former England forward quickly work out who his men for the job are, both on and off the field, but he won't stomp in on July 1 swinging the axe.

South Wales Argus:

Ryan's task is to get the balance right; he needs to ensure an upturn in on-field fortunes right from the start of his tenure but he has to plot for the long-term.

Asking Dragons supporters to be patient is a massive no-go – they have been told too many times about short-term pain for long-term gain.

They do not expect the world but they rightly expect better than they have been given since the middle of the Lyn Jones era, when the team was pretty competitive in the PRO14 and made it to a pair of European Challenge Cup semi-finals.

The expectations are not sky high, Dragons supporters know that their team's squad is paper thin, they know that they don't have a glut of Test big beasts.

But they also know that their side has not been greater than the sum of its parts for quite some time.

The Turner blueprint was to scrap and give bigger clubs a bloody nose, the hope is that Ryan can ensure a return to those days to make occasions like the Judgement Day upset against the Scarlets a more regular occurrence.

Perhaps the new role that he holds – with the prospect of wearing chinos in the boardroom as well as shorts on the training pitch – give him a better chance of achieving that rather than just relying on others to do their bit and provide assistance.

Ryan's glare won't just be reserved for a player not putting it in at the Ystrad Mynach gym, it will be given to is fellow board members if the business is not growing enough to give him more to work with when recruiting and retaining.

It's that no-nonsense reputation that clearly appeals to the Dragons, although Jackman was also a straight talker during his short spell in Newport.

Ryan's appointment was given the green light by the Welsh Rugby Union, who held different meetings about the former back row forward in the summer of 2000 because of his impact in Gwent.

The Bristol player-coach was sent off in Caerphilly after receiving two yellow cards and then in Newport he was given another break in the sin bin for a swinging arm.

The games were pre-season friendlies.

Being down to 14 men is a killer in the modern game, but showing that sort of fight in 2019/20, returning to the uncompromising, snarling performances at Rodney Parade, would go down a treat with Dragons supporters.

Fans long for glory but slow progress – an improvement on this year's five PRO14 wins and ending the embarrassing away losing streak – will do just fine for now.

Ryan needs to be thinking about the long term but he can only get there by producing the goods next season, and as a rugby man he understands that.

If the Dragons are to progress then they need someone to actually stay for the duration of a three-year plan.

As it was for Jackman, the proof is in the pudding for Ryan.