WALES boss Warren Gatland believes the Dragons are a “sleeping giant” who can make strides if they get their set-up right.

Gatland said ahead of the Six Nations defeat to Ireland that Welsh professional rugby feels like a “sinking ship” and that he was not convinced that a reset would happen.

The national boss stressed the need to invest in facilities and coaches before thinking about recruiting players.

Those comments didn’t go down well with the Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets, who are all cutting costs, and Gatland revisited the subject on Thursday.

“What I was highlighting was the importance of us, for the next 10 years if we want success and sustainability, having the best facilities and the best support staff, whether that is coaches, medical staff, strength and conditioning,” he said.

“Probably the difference between us and Ireland at the moment is they have got their systems and structures in place and we’ve got a little bit of a way to go.

“It wasn’t a criticism of coaches. I know how hard they are working in terms of the regions, and how hard they are trying.

“It wasn’t a criticism of them, it is about all of us working together to keep improving the things we’ve got here.”

South Wales Argus: Wales boss Warren GatlandWales boss Warren Gatland (Image: PA)

Gatland met with Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan on Wednesday evening about future plans.

The Wales boss became the latest in a long line of people to use the phrase ‘sleeping giant’ about the Rodney Parade club despite another tough season.

“He’s very much of the same view that he’s got to get things right at the Dragons,” said Gatland about Flanagan.

“Everyone knows they’ve underperformed but I feel like in some ways that they’re a little bit of a sleeping giant and if they get things right there there’s a massive opportunity for an uplift in them as a region going forward.

“He’s fully aware he has to get the right people involved in his set-up and infrastructure. That’s the only way they’ve got a chance of being successful.

“Not only that, if you’ve got the right things there then you’ve got the chance of attracting top quality players.”