MOST rugby eyes are on Japan, and Dean Ryan wouldn't have it any other way.

The new Dragons boss is happy to go under the radar and let others have the spotlight while he gets to grips with the often-mad matters at Rodney Parade.

Ryan was a no-nonsense forward who won the Premiership with Wasps and Newcastle, was capped by England and then went on to coach Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester before taking up a role with the RFU.

Yet he won't have seen anything quite like the Dragons.

The rest of us have seen so many bonkers goings-on at Rodney Parade that we've grown used to them; there's always something dramatic around the corner that will leave us shaking our heads.

That's the Dragons way.

Forget the official #bringyourfire or 'founded in steel, forged in flames', the historic catchphrase is 'this is ridiculous #sigh'.

Ryan, who has a place on the board to ensure he also has an off-field influence, wants that to change.

The boss may want his players to play fast and expansively but he wants things to grow slow and steadily in Gwent.

Life under Ryan starts in Limerick on Saturday and one gets the impression that he would disagree with the suggestion from one of Ireland's favourite sons that there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

The Argus will cover things in detail as ever but the director of rugby would happily have other media organisations covering his team with 'Meanwhile, the Dragons…' at the tail-end of their coverage.

South Wales Argus:

Ryan is on the tee and taking the iron out of his bag rather than the driver – he wants no dramas, he wants things to be solid, he wants to lay the foundations.

He recognises the desperation for success in these parts from supporters who are at their wits' end but he isn't going to fuel excitement with overambition.

Ryan has already pleaded for patience and is keen for everyone in the organisation to share that sense of realism.

In order for the Dragons to get to where they want to they first have to realise where they are.

That doesn't mean saying that everyone and everything is rubbish, it's just about taking steps to make the most of the talent that is on the books.

Jot down a best Dragons XV and it's pretty strong, jot down the second-best XV and it's reasonable, jot down the third and it's cause for concern with areas of the team where the depth chart is thin.

The region is already going into the season with Joe Davies and Matthew Screech as their only fit senior locks, with promising Max Williams next in line along with blindsides Huw Taylor and Lewis Evans.

There are lots of talented young back three players in the squad but they are worryingly close to being needed for first team action, where opposition fly-halves can be cruel in their exploitation of defensive naivety.

I can't pretend that I was overwhelmed when Ryan was given the job but he has struck the right tone since taking the reins.

What the Dragons need is a boss who is here for three seasons so that they can develop a style and an identity, but they also need realism about what that third campaign will look like.

The region doesn't have to be challenging for the play-offs in 2022. We don't expect miracles, just for the Dragons to get better.

If nobody is talking about them come May then Ryan will have done a solid job.


South Wales Argus:

KIND words will have gone in one of Cory Hill's ears and out the other after his nightmare week.

That Wales were prepared to take such a gamble on his fitness shows the strides that the 27-year-old has made since a surprise call-up from Rob Howley for the 2016 autumn internationals.

Hill has grown as a leader and flourished as a player on the Test scene, showing that a second row doesn't have to be a complete bruiser and impressing with his mobility, ball-playing ability, work rate and aptitude at carrying out the game plan.

Head coach Warren Gatland acknowledged that it was a gamble to include the Dragons forward, who hasn't played since February, in his final 31 for Japan but there was a confidence that he would hit the deadline of Sunday's meeting with Australia.

That he hasn't will leave many with a sense of regret.

Gatland will ponder with hindsight whether he should have just gone with Bradley Davies, whose non-selection after a solitary summer appearance against Ireland makes you wonder whether it will be flanker Aaron Shingler who is fourth lock in line.

The medical team will wish that they could have done more to help speed up the healing process after giving the management assurances.

But most importantly Hill will be left with 'if-onlys' clanking around his head after suffering a fate that is arguably worse than the unlucky ones from the training squad who missed the final cut.

Being taken to Japan, receiving his World Cup cap, and being given hope almost adds to the agony for a player who had to deal with crushing disappointment as captain of Wales Under-20s in the 2012 Junior World Championship, when kidney failure ended his tournament after one game and led to him missing the famous win against New Zealand.

If Wales go on to fulfil their ambition of lifting the World Cup aloft then it will be bittersweet for a man who has played such a big role in the preparation.

The Dragons must pick up the pieces after what is likely to be the biggest sporting blow of Hill's career.

Japan wouldn't have been on his radar four years ago, when he was still trying to establish himself at Rodney Parade, but France 2023 can't come quick enough for Hill.