THE Dragons believe no-nonsense Filo Tiatia is the perfect man to make them a tougher team after appointing the former All Black as defence coach.

The 52-year-old Ospreys legend is returning to Wales to work as an assistant under head coach Dai Flanagan next season.

Cost-cutting meant the Dragons opted to run without a specialist leader for the defence this season after the departure of Simon Cross for Major League Rugby last summer.

Flanagan interviewed a number of candidates for the role and believes two-times capped former back rower Tiatia is the perfect fit for what will be a new-look coaching team.

“He returns to Wales with a wealth of coaching experience and is an innovator and leader in every sense of the word who will make a huge impression here,” said Flanagan.

“There is no doubt he will grab this role with both hands and stamp his mark on it.

South Wales Argus: LEADER: The Dragons have appointed Filo Tiatia as defence coachLEADER: The Dragons have appointed Filo Tiatia as defence coach (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I have always stated it shouldn’t be easy when teams come to Rodney Parade or face the Dragons and I know that Filo will work with our squad to rebuild that area of our game and make it his very own.

“I have no doubt that Filo will be a great ally and I know how keen he is to come back to Wales and become a Dragon.”

Tiatia's title will be defence coach but he will have a bigger influence at Rodney Parade.

"I’ve known Filo for a long time and was super impressed with him when I went to the Ospreys as a player," said Flanagan.

"His references are unbelievable and his understanding of the game has really impressed me.

"He will be a big asset for the region, and not just with the defence, he will be a help for me as a head coach and how we things in house.

"Filo will be accountable for defence, and that’s where he will add his biggest punch, but we’d be naïve not to tap into his intelligence.

"He has certain non-negotiables and leadership skills that will be great for us to improve as a team and as an environment."

Tiatia cut his coaching teeth with the Ospreys in the Anglo-Welsh Cup before roles with Toyota Verblitz and Sunwolves in Japan, going on to be part of the national set-up under Jamie Joseph.

He has worked in Super Rugby with Moana Pasifika and was forwards coach with Auckland before becoming director of rugby at Rangitoto College in Auckland.

Now Tiatia – who won the Celtic League and Anglo-Welsh Cup at the Ospreys, plus was a part of the team that beat Australia A – is returning to south Wales.

South Wales Argus: ICON: Ospreys forward Filo Tiatia in action against Dragons great Luke Charteris at Rodney ParadeICON: Ospreys forward Filo Tiatia in action against Dragons great Luke Charteris at Rodney Parade (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I’m excited by the challenge ahead and opportunity to return to Wales with Dragons RFC,” he said.

“I’ve spent some time discussing the club’s aspirations with Dai. It’s a good time for an ambitious club to kick on and I’m looking forward to being a part of a new coaching set-up.

“There is undoubtedly a quality squad, full of young Gwent talent, being assembled at Dragons and I can’t wait to get started with the players this summer and help us move forward.”

The Dragons have had a busy recruitment drive for next season with Wales back row forward Shane Lewis-Hughes, Tonga number eight Solomone Funaki, Australian lock Steve Cumming and Aussie centre Harry Wilson agreeing to moves.

They have also brought South African wing/centre Chris Hollis and former Ospreys and Cardiff tighthead Dmitri Arhip in on short-term deals until the end of the campaign that could be extended.