A REGULAR lament from the Paul Turner era at the Dragons was the poor training facilities.

How is it possible to be the very best you can be when given a nomadic schedule, travelling between Rodney Parade cabbage patch, a pokey gym, Llanrumney, Newport High School or Cwmbran?

That problem was solved in 2014 when the Dragons struck a deal with Caerphilly council to rent the new Centre for Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach.

"This brings us into the modern age in terms of everything being on one site and there are no excuses now," said then chief executive Gareth Davies, who is now chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union.

"It's a great opportunity for us and not only will it help the team but it is nice to engage with the community."

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Facilities issue solved but another regular lament from the Turner era, then Darren Edwards era, then Lyn Jones era and finally the Kingsley Jones era was the scarcity of staff.

Coaches had to wear plenty of hats, combining roles and being unable to specialise in the department that they were predominantly there for.

It didn't take long for Bernard Jackman to realise that after heading through the door; not only did the head coach have a busy first transfer drive but he also had a hectic reshaping of the backroom team.

Former Ireland and Leinster hooker Jackman spent his early days in Wales doing an audit of the region.

"Part of that showed that we were a little bit under-staffed, so for me it's about bringing in quality that will help our players perform better," he said in the summer of 2017.

"Also when we get everybody on board we will have people responsible for one, or a maximum of two, areas."

"The model environments have real clarity of role and people are experts in one area, then it all ties in together," he continued.

In came skills then backs coach Barry Maddocks, defence coach Hendre Marnitz, skills coach Alan Kingsley, assistant forwards coach Ian Evans, head of performance analysis Simon Norris, conditioning coaches Michael Symes and Jack Phelan and nutritionist Doug Crichton.

Jackman's changes didn't prevent him from getting the boot but his thinking was correct, and has been mirrored by Dean Ryan.

Even before the pandemic that must make professional rugby rethink its approach, the Dragons were not a side with the ability to buy their way to wins.

The region doesn't have the financial clout to have quantity of squad and there is always the risk of the quality in it being tempted elsewhere.

It's an absolute necessity for the Dragons to make the most of what they have got – they need to develop talent and make sure that those that take to the field are well-drilled and organised.

They must lean heavily on the academy to fill holes in their roster than cannot be tackled with a chequebook.

To that end Ryan has been shaping his management team with former Wales hooker Mefin Davies signed up for next season to look after the forwards and Cardiff favourite Dan Baugh beefing up the conditioning team.

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Simon Cross will go from being a part-time defence coach to being a permanent member of the staff along with Luke Narraway, who was in charge of the Celtic Cup team last year.

New coaching arrivals and contract renewals but as of yet no new additions, although there are a handful of irons in the fire.

Director of rugby Ryan has made a conscious decision to add to his coaching team, believing there are bigger gains to be made through that expenditure than bringing in a steady squad player.

Given that you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, Ryan clearly thinks that there is the talent in the senior squad and those just beneath it to help the Dragons enjoy change their fortunes when combined with a smattering of experience.

He'll also be looking at bringing in some unpolished gems or misfits from elsewhere, keen to prosper from players flourishing after a change of scene or from leaving their comfort zone.

Ryan has made a big thing of the Dragons now being an enjoyable workplace, and not in a David Brent way. He is demanding hard graft, learning and improvement.

Davies said six years ago that the Ystrad Mynach move meant there could be "no excuses" and now those facilities have been combined with a sizeable backroom team, numbers that Turner, Edwards and the Jones could only dream of.

There can be no grumbling from up top about being without the tools or the manpower, leaving the only justification for failure being that the players simply are not good enough.

Ryan, who is still a leading figure on the training field, has put his faith in the staff and he needs them to help work some magic whenever training resumes, because he won't want to throw the players under the bus.