THE Dragons’ owners have given the green light for head coach Dai Flanagan to “fast-track” changes after the Boxing Day nightmare in Cardiff.

The Rodney Parade club are bottom of the United Rugby Championship and suffered a humiliating 55-21 defeat at the Arms Park in their final game of 2023.

A reaction is essential when they entertain the Scarlets on New Year’s Day but Flanagan is plotting changes on and off the field in the longer term.

READ MORE: Dragons hammering must be watershed moment

A three-strong consortium of chairman David Buttress, David Wright and Hoyoung Huh, who is represented by interim chief executive Graeme Bradbury, bought the Dragons from the Welsh Rugby Union over the summer.

There had to be some cost-cutting in the first year of their ownership but investment is coming ahead of schedule, says the head coach after talks with the owners on Wednesday.

South Wales Argus: WOE: The Dragons leave the field after the hammering by CardiffWOE: The Dragons leave the field after the hammering by Cardiff (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“There will be certain things on the back of it [Cardiff] that we have to do as a club to make sure we move in the right direction, and this might fast-track certain things,” said Flanagan.

“I have spoken to the owners and they have been very good since the game. The three people who have taken over really care about this club.

“We had certain things we had to achieve financially at the start of the year but we also have a reputation to uphold and they are supportive of the direction we need to take. We need to move a bit quicker on certain things.

“We totally didn’t expect Boxing Day, that was unacceptable and means we need to move quicker because we don't want it to happen again in the six months left in the season.

“There is a plan in place for this region to grow and something like that hurts our brand.

“I am pretty sure they understand it's a tough task for me and I understand it's a tough task for them, because nobody makes money taking on a rugby club. They are in it for the right reasons.”

The Dragons are aiming to secure new deals with Wales stars Aaron Wainwright and Rio Dyer while Flanagan is also looking to bring in a specialist defence coach after being without one since Simon Cross left for America last summer.

The head coach has also been without a recruitment specialist after Rob Burgess left for Bath and has leaned heavily on former Dragons boss Paul Turner, who is working as a consultant alongside his role coaching Ampthill in England.

South Wales Argus: Dragons head coach Dai FlanaganDragons head coach Dai Flanagan (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Flanagan said: “With regards to recruitment and retention, we have a salary cap [£4.5million] that we have to abide by, but there are ways that we can do a bit more off-field in how I can be supported.

“That was always coming but they have assured me that I can move on that when I am ready. I probably need that help now.”

Flanagan is also determined to give young talent a chance to rack up the minutes to boost their development for 2024/25.

“We want to expose certain youngsters this season with regards to our plan for next season,” he said. “We know in certain areas we need them to come through so let's do it now.

“They can get the shirt now because those that had it in Cardiff have missed the opportunity to go again.”

The Dragons have traditionally been the worst Welsh team and are in serious danger of finishing bottom of the URC this season.

“It's about breaking up that pattern that has become Gwent rugby,” said Flanagan, who took over from Dean Ryan a game into last season.

“I have to make some serious decisions going into next year and we have to break up the pattern.

"We are all on board, me and the owners, it just means we may have to do it a bit quicker.”