BORIS Stankovich’s influence at the Dragons can’t just be measured by the 37 appearances that he made over two seasons in Wales.

The veteran prop was brought in by director of rugby Lyn Jones to not only try and solidify a struggling scrum but to help provide pointers to the Rodney Parade region’s young front rowers.

Don’t let the gruff exterior fool you, Stankovich is an absolute gent and would always stop for a chat around the Ystrad Mynach training base.

On one such occasion I remember him saying “The most dangerous words in rugby are ‘we’ve always done it this way”.

That was in the context of Leicester, who were then on the slip after being in nine successive Premiership finals between 2005 and 2013.

It’s been a case of out of the Dragons’ frying pan and into the Tigers fire for Stankovich. He’s swapped then chaotic Rodney Parade for shambolic Welford Road, where he is scrum coach.

But the Dragons profited from bringing in a New Zealander who, after brief spells with Cardiff and Albi in France, had been used to winning trophies after over a decade in England.

Stankovich provided a fresh pair of eyes and a different slant on things but since being taken over by the Welsh Rugby Union there has been a shift in focus with the recruitment centred on those that are able to wear red.

It’s created a situation where the Dragons will be lacking in foreign voices, and they are all the poorer for it.

Of the 46 players listed in the senior squad on the website, only Brok Harris is not from the UK.

South Wales Argus:

The South African prop is on his own despite being a prime example of the value of an overseas recruit having made 122 appearances as he prepares for a seventh campaign at Rodney Parade.

At one stage he was joined by compatriots Rynard Landman, Sarel Pretorius and Carl Meyer, who were all valuable members of the Dragons squad.

So successful has 35-year-old Harris been – both on the pitch and off it – that he is now Welsh-qualified, leaving reserve scrum-half Luke Baldwin the only individual in Dean Ryan’s squad that could not be called up by national boss Wayne Pivac.

When overseas signings are done properly they don’t block Welsh talent, they help it flourish.

Last week the Ospreys signed Stephen Myler, bringing the Farage out of some on social media that questioned why a local fly-half couldn’t get the gig.

Seemingly they’d rather up and coming Dewi Lake, Morgan Morris, Harri Morgan and Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler spend their season on the backfoot rather than prospering thanks to a canny operator at 10 that puts the team in the right places in the absence of the injured Wales playmaker Gareth Anscombe.

It was the same when the Scarlets signed Sione Kalamafoni, a Tongan international back row forward whose strong running made him a favourite with Gloucester and Leicester.

I’d suggest that he can teach Dan Davis things that James Davies can’t.

The Dragons might have just one South African voice but thankfully they have embraced the need to bring in those who have experiences of different cultures and environments.

It enriches the group to have some individuals that have come in from outside rather than having total reliance on those from the Welsh system.

South Wales Argus:

On the playing front that will come from the top, middle and bottom of England in the form of northerner Jonah Holmes, Midlander Joe Maksymiw and southerner Nick Tompkins, two Wales internationals either side of a Welsh-qualified Englishman with Irish and Ukrainian heritage. They have arrived from Leicester, Connacht and Saracens.

On the coaching front, Ryan and Luke Narraway represented England, Gordon Ross played fly-half for Scotland and former Edinburgh captain Simon Cross was agonisingly an unused replacement in a 2004 Six Nations loss in Cardiff.

Kicking consultant Alan Kingsley is Irish, strength and conditioning coach Dan Baugh is Canadian and head physio Ben Stirling is from the north west of England.

Ryan and his management are bringing together ideas and ways of working from elsewhere, even if plenty of it has come from just 55 up the A449 from Worcester.

Squads work best when outsiders are welcomed and encouraged to make suggestions, or sometimes just assurances that the right things are being done.

A player from Suva will always be scrutinised more closely than one from Saundersfoot, even though they are guaranteed to be there throughout the season unlike Wales internationals, but value doesn’t just come from minutes on the pitch.

It enriches all of us to mix with those from different backgrounds and rugby is no different.