BOSS Dean Ryan admits the Dragons have been given the perfect preparation for the coming United Rugby Championship season – and knows they cannot afford another sluggish start.

The Rodney Parade side returned for pre-season training at the end of June with a sizeable contingent.

Just five players are currently on Test duty – Wales internationals Will Rowlands, Taine Basham and Ben Carter, Samoa prop Aki Seiuli and Argentina scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou.

READ MORE: Dragons to face Scarlets in final friendly

Internationals Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright and Leon Brown are hard at work after injuries denied them the chance to be taking on the Springboks.

They have been joined by the new recruits – 10/15 Angus O'Brien, centres Sio Tomkinson and Max Clark, fly-half JJ Hanrahan, props Rob Evans and Rhodri Jones, hooker Bradley Roberts and locks Sean Lonsdale and George Nott – who are getting their feet under the table in Ystrad Mynach.

The Dragons won just two games in the inaugural 2021/22 URC and paid the price for winning just once in the first block of the campaign, when they had to settle for three losing bonus points.

South Wales Argus: Dragons director of rugby Dean RyanDragons director of rugby Dean Ryan

“We've probably got the biggest squad that we have had for pre-season since I've been here for a range of reasons,” said director of rugby Ryan, who has appointed Dai Flanagan as head coach.

“We have brought new players in that are capable of starting and have to get them up to speed.

“We saw last year that the biggest opportunity to gather momentum is in the window before the autumn.

“We have to hit the ground running because if we miss that it is very difficult when managing around Wales call-ups.

“We need to be ready to go right at the beginning of the season and that involves a new fly-half, changes in the pack and in midfield. We have to get that up and running as quickly as we can.”

The Dragons also followed a nightmare season with a strong recruitment drive in the summer of 2018.

However, head coach Bernard Jackman paid the price for the side failing to start the campaign strongly, winning three out of nine PRO14 games, and was sacked in December after heavy losses to Leinster and Northampton.

The season gets under way at the end of September with the Dragons tuning up with home friendlies against the English pair of Wasps and Bristol at Rodney Parade.