DEAN Ryan has dampened down expectations about Will Reed and vowed that the Dragons will take things slowly with the playmaker despite a promising first start.

The 20-year-old from Croesyceiliog was given the 10 jersey for the first time on Sunday, lining up opposite Wales international Gareth Anscombe.

Reed starred for Newport RFC in 2021/22, helping the Black and Ambers win the Premiership Cup, and made three outings for the Dragons against the Bulls, Sharks and Zebre.

However, he went up number of levels when picked ahead of Sam Davies in Swansea and rose to the occasion, to the delight and relief of his director of rugby.

“I don’t think it was a gamble to put Will Reed in, but I have to question whether it is the right thing for his development,” said Ryan. “You have got to get those stages right and hindsight says that it was.

“I have been protective of him a little bit and have tried to get things right, but I didn’t want to get to the end of the season and just throw him a bone, going ‘see you next year’. I wanted to get him in and get him knowing what it feels like.”

Ryan raised the subject of Reed’s performance unprompted with his first answer in the post-match press conference – “led by a very impressive young man, our attack game was outstanding” – yet then urged caution from the media and supporters.

The Dragons will have Davies and summer signings JJ Hanrahan and Angus O’Brien as senior options at 10 next season, allowing them to bring the youngster through slowly.

South Wales Argus: Will Reed in the Premiership Cup final for NewportWill Reed in the Premiership Cup final for Newport

“Just leave him alone, that would be my request. I think that he is going really well and is ticking along nicely with a great mentor in Matt O’Brien at Newport,” said Ryan.

“We have talked about exposing him [at senior level] and he has got great composure but he will have a day where it doesn’t work well, so can we not just let people develop instead of trying to make them a back-page headline?

“He is a great kid and I think in five years’ time he will remember this day and we will have seen a lot more of him. Let him have those years.”

Davies has endured a frustrating season but the hope is that he will be fired up by former Munster fly-half Hanrahan arriving from Clermont and the return to Rodney Parade of O’Brien from the Scarlets.

“We want competition for places in as many positions as we can get. That has been a real problem for us and next year is trying to build towards that,” said Ryan.

“It’s a combination of bringing people in and trying to develop from within, while also upping the ante for those that are here.”