IT was pudding that was off the menu when Bernard Jackman was in charge at Grenoble but it appears that it’s carrots that won’t be seen at the Dragons’ training base in Ystrad Mynach.

The head coach seemingly prefers the stick approach to motivation of his squad at the moment following a brutally honest appraisal of what he has seen in the opening months of his rein.

It hasn’t been an entirely unexpected start to the Guinness PRO14 season with a home defeat to title favourites Leinster and yet another away loss at Edinburgh.

Not many jaws will have hit the floor on hearing such results after a summer that featured just two high-profile additions, fly-half Gavin Henson and full-back Zane Kirchner, to a squad that finished with just Zebre beneath them in 2016/17.

But Jackman wants more from his charges, and didn’t just tell them that in the changing rooms at Rodney Parade and Myreside, the Irishman spread that clear message through the media.

“The bench gave us a negative impact in Edinburgh and that’s what we saw in pre-season, where we were competitive for 60 minutes and then fell away,” he told me by the dugout in Edinburgh.

He continued: “I’ve said to the bench that people are looking for game time but when they get it they don’t do well enough. That’s something we need to fix.

“People we are bringing on aren’t adding to it and giving [positive] impact. It’s either status quo or negative.”

A bit of tough love isn’t a bad thing and Jackman is clearly looking to spark a reaction.

He knew what he was doing – he repeated the statement to the BBC Scotland team doing the interview for Scrum V – and it was a calculated approach rather than a frustrated outpouring in the haze of a defeat by coach wired on Red Bull and Haribo.

It wasn’t the head coach telling players that he doesn’t rate them (not yet anyway), it was the head coach telling players that they need to buck their ideas up if they are to be part of his rebuilding process.

A glance at the squad list on his arrival in June would have told Jackman that it is lacking a bit of quality in areas but also depth.

That means the management team need everyone to play their part over what will be at least a gruelling 31-game campaign from September to April.

There can be no passengers and Jackman will need to call on the services of everybody; he can have nobody sulking and feeling like they are outsiders.

But the new boss also has to be brutally honest about those on the books. There is no point in pussyfooting around just because it’s year one of a reign.

The Dragons have finished in the bottom four of the league for six years on the spin and it’s only a pair of European Challenge Cup jaunts to the semi-finals that has provided some cheer.

The new boss must try and squeeze all he can out of the current squad but the reality is they are a bottom-four club bracketed with the Italians and Edinburgh.

The players are not in a position of strength when it comes to demanding to be part of Jackman’s intended three-year rebuilding plan.

Nor do they have much time to state their case with the head coach sure to be preparing for a busy recruitment drive in the next main window.

Work for next summer starts in earnest in the coming weeks and months with Jackman already thinking about how to divide what is still a pretty meagre budget.

Cruel as it may sound, at present there are players on the Dragons books who may not be on the heftiest pay packets but who don’t provide great value. Combine a few of them together and you have a solid performer who can genuinely challenge for the XV.

It’s going to be a stressful first half of the campaign for players who have contracts expiring next year; the heat is on and they will need to show strong character to put in performances to get an offer from Jackman.

The carrot approach will be used for academy prospects Max Williams, Jared Rosser, Will Talbot-Davies, Lennon Greggains, Arwel Robson and Chris Coleman as they make their first steps in the professional game.

But the established players on the Dragons books can expect a hurley up the rear from their Irish boss if they don’t hit the required standards.

It’s early days in the reign of Jackman and he will give credit when it’s due but expect plenty of tough love and honest talk as well.

Blind positivity isn’t going to sort the Dragons out.

TIME will tell whether David Buttress turns out to be a good Dragons chairman but his appointment is another important and interesting step.

Like Jackman, he will be greeted by plenty of unexpected issues at Rodney Parade and will be baffled at some of the decisions that have been made in the past.

But Buttress’ arrival signifies a change of regime, approach and attitude that will give confidence to potential sponsors and investors.

He is a 40-year-old entrepreneur who is already engaging with supporters on social media and has made his fortune through technology. That is pretty much the polar opposite to those in the previous regime and I am sure those that join Buttress’ board will be like-minded.

The chairman seems to have arrived with fresh ideas and will be pretty hands-on after making a financial investment to become a minority shareholder, something that will lead to an interesting dynamic with chief executive Stuart Davies.

Sustainability remains the key word at the Dragons but changes at the helm and a can-do attitude should certainly increase their chances of improving the budget for Jackman.