DAI Flanagan hasn’t taken over the reins at the Dragons but the new head coach is confident he can play a leading role in turning fortunes around at Rodney Parade.

The 36-year-old has headed east from the Scarlets to take the next step in his coaching career after being in charge of the backs in Llanelli.

Flanagan has the title of head coach but is effectively a replacement for backs coach Gordon Ross; the chain of command is clear and it will still be Dean Ryan calling the shots.

The new man’s task is to change that as the years pass and as he gains experience, hopefully getting to a stage where the former fly-half gets the top job.

Flanagan will add a fresh voice as the Dragons attempt to put the woe of 2021/22 – a nightmare season containing just two wins – behind them.

South Wales Argus: PARTNERSHIP: Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan and head coach Dai FlanaganPARTNERSHIP: Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan and head coach Dai Flanagan

“Dean leads the rugby but this is my next step,” said Flanagan, who will work with forwards coaches Mefin Davies and Luke Narraway plus defence coach Simon Cross. “My job is to make people better, that is what inspires me.

“My strengths are my day-to-day teaching and how we develop as a team. It will be important that me and Dean are aligned and we will challenge each other.

“This role is my next step, allowing me to align how I believe we should run an environment to get the best out of players.”

Flanagan started talks with Ryan and chairman David Buttress last month and doesn’t have long to wait until putting his imprint on the Dragons with pre-season starting next week.

The new coach will make the short trip from his New Tredegar home to the Ystrad Mynach training base on the Ystrad Fawr site where he first started playing the game with Penallta.

“As soon as the ball started rolling, the job got my juices flowing,” said Flanagan. "It's the right time.

“I loved my journey at the Scarlets and worked under some fantastic, attack-minded coaches.

“Stephen Jones was the assistant coach that I was doing the skills for then Brad Mooar came in and then Dwayne Peel – that hasn’t been a bad apprenticeship and it going to be exciting leading my own attack.”

There is undeniably a gulf to the top teams in the United Rugby Championship but Flanagan believes he has quality players to work with.

South Wales Argus: SIGNING: JJ Hanrahan will be with the Dragons in the coming seasonSIGNING: JJ Hanrahan will be with the Dragons in the coming season

“Look at the depth of 10s here – JJ Hanrahan, Sam Davies, Angus O’Brien, Will Reed. That is as good as you will get in Wales,” he said.

“We were fortunate at the Scarlets with Dan Jones, Rhys Patchell, Sam Costelow and Angus, four quality players pushing each other all the time.

“That is what we have here and the fly-halves are your leaders, the ones that dictate how you play and call the shots.

“I would say that as a former 10, but a lot of responsibility lies with that position and those players are as good as you get.”

The Dragons have had a strong recruitment drive to bring in Rob Evans, Rhodri Jones, Bradley Roberts, George Nott, Sean Lonsdale, Hanrahan, O'Brien, Max Clark and Sio Tompkinson.

Supporters have been here before, but they are signings that should lead to an improved win rate or Ryan will be feeling the heat.

“I was sat at the dinner table when I had some information through on squad depth. My wife asked me what I was thinking and I couldn’t hide my excitement,” said Flanagan.

South Wales Argus: Dragons head coach Dai FlanaganDragons head coach Dai Flanagan

“I’ve worked with a lot of the squad previously and started my coaching career in the region; I’m a Penallta boy and know people like Leon Brown and Joe Davies who I recruited for Newport High School.

“My job here is to make them better and help them kick on. The same with Ben Carter, who I coached with Newport Schools at under-15s.

“Jared Rosser, Rio Dyer, the list goes on and then you add the stardust that has been signed and the depth we are looking to build with a very good academy that produces a lot of quality players.

“It’s important that I help generate the next step for those players.”

Flanagan was close to playing at Rodney Parade after signing for Newport in 2014 only to then leave without playing to take up a coaching role at the Scarlets.

The prolific kicker amassed 1,241 for Pontypridd and has one big conversion lined up.

“I’ve got a seven-year-old boy in the house and at the moment he’s a big Scarlets fan,” he said. “It’s my job to inspire him to want to play here at Rodney Parade.”