DRAGONS’ senior players are stepping up to fill the void after director of rugby Dean Ryan and a number of his coaches have had to self-isolate, according to stand-in boss Gordon Ross.

A member of Ryan’s management team tested positive for coronavirus last week, meaning that the director of rugby and all coaches who came into close contact with the individual in Belfast had to go into self-isolation.

Backs coach Ross took the reins for the game at Munster, and is expecting to do so again on Saturday at Connacht, but the Scot admitted some of the region’s more experienced players had taken on their share of the responsibilities.

“The boys in particular have been excellent this week,” he said. “They’ve taken on board what happened last weekend and they’ve challenged themselves to get better in parts of the game, which has been great for us.

“As a group of coaches, we wanted to give the group of players a bit more ownership over a two- or three-week period just to see where they get to.

“We’ve provided video clips of the opposition, but in general the players have led and they’ve been excellent, so it’s just guiding them.

“With the likes of Jamie Roberts, Sam Davies, Richard Hibbert, they’ve got a huge amount of experience and played at the top level, so we’d be pretty naïve as coaches not to go into that experience and ask questions of them what we can do to help or what we can do better to try and do better as a group.

“They are very good at that, they know where we are as a club and they want everyone to get better, so they’ve got a huge focus on that as well.”

In the lead up to the Munster game, Ryan said he would leave the coaching to the staff and the experienced players at Rodney Parade.

“I was pleasantly surprised that he stuck to his word,” laughed Ross. “There was the odd message that came in but they were very similar to things as coaches we were writing down.

“He was excellent on the phone beforehand and afterwards so he’s been very good like that.

“I didn’t have to do too much to be honest. Dean’s put some really good structures in place and all the guys helped out.

“I think the only different thing was saying a few words before the game and at half time, but again it was just covering off key messages that the players had covered extremely well during the week.

“It was nice being the boss for the day, as such, but in no way was it like that, we were all the same and all helped each other out.

“There was loads of guys there that I could ask for advice and they were all excellent passing bits and pieces on. It made the experience really enjoyable because there were good people involved.

“It’s been a great opportunity for other coaches to lead parts of the game they might not have done previously. It’s been a huge learning experience for all of us and it’s been really enjoyable.

“The guys are happy to help each other out, there’s no one person saying: ‘This is my area, I look after this’. We are all open to advice and feedback so we can try and develop.”

When asked for an update on the staff who are self-isolating, Ross said they had been in constant contact with the players and remaining staff during the week.

“They’re all in a good place, all things considered,” he said.