A SUMMER of change at Rodney Parade has led to people looking for green shoots more desperately than ever.

That desperation has led to some finding encouragement in the smallest things at the start of the season when in truth the opening six rounds of the Guinness PRO14 has made one of the Dragons’ traditional needs abundantly clear – they need to splash more cash.

For all the talk of changing the culture and environment, an increase in the budget to spend on players is the only way that fortunes will be turned around in the east of Wales.

At the start of the season I pledged to judge the Dragons harshly despite it being a transitional year and much of the following will do little to shake off my reputation for being a grumbler.

While the style of rugby undoubtedly gives some reason for optimism (see piece below), Bernard Jackman’s side are on par.

The corresponding fixtures last season yielded five points. Take off the five that everybody is getting against Southern Kings and they are on the same tally.

Of course, expecting rapid and immediate change is foolish. That will only come with a dramatic squad turnover with the first instalment of that taking place in the summer.

The opening rounds of the campaign have laid bare the Dragons’ paper-thin squad with at least 25 games and 29 weeks to go.

It’s here that the same old issue of money crops up.

Either the Welsh Rugby Union stump up more cash for the Dragons than they do for the Scarlets, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues – not going to happen – or revenue has to go through the roof at Rodney Parade.

On that front new chairman David Buttress and his new board have to produce the goods; there is undoubtedly good will towards the Dragons in Gwent but that has to manifest itself on the balance sheet.

The model is the same as before, just with the WRU owning the asset of Rodney Parade and with younger more ambitious folk in the boardroom.

Fingers crossed they can attract more private investment into the Dragons (or dip into their own pockets) because plenty of money needs to be spent on the squad.

It is without question that the players are prospering from a more professional set-up at their Ystrad Mynach training base; there are more coaches to aid development and more focus on conditioning and welfare.

But more quality AND quantity is needed in the ranks, and it needs to come from outside the region and be ready to hit the ground running.

Much has been made about the young players getting a chance in this interim season but that’s always been the case.

Cardiff Blues boss Danny Wilson, himself a former Dragons coach, hit the nail on the head before last week’s derby in the capital when he pointed to the Joneses having done the same as Jackman.

“There are some young players that have come through now and who are starting to become quite established players at the Dragons. They've done it through Kingsley's time, Lyn's time,” he said.

Six players have made senior debuts this season – Max Williams, Jared Rosser, Owain Leonard, George Gasson, Lennon Greggains and Aaron Wainwright.

Last season bows were given to Leon Brown, Arwel Robson, Will Talbot-Davies, Josh Skinner, Ellis Shipp plus the slightly older Robson Blake and Ashley Sweet.

Leonard and the unlucky Owen Davies were unused replacements at Edinburgh and Leicester respectively while Rosser would probably have featured at some stage were it not for Wales 7s commitments.

Young talent has always got a chance at Rodney Parade but expecting them to do men’s work next season would just repeat mistakes of the past.

The WRU want the Dragons to be a sustainable business and are keen for academy talent to prosper but if things are to really improve Buttress & Co have to somehow find a way of boosting the coffers dramatically. Cutting some players currently on the books will only do so much.

South Wales Argus:

ONE of the greatest tries in the Dragons' brief history barely caused a ripple because of when the game was played.

They headed to Belfast on February 5, 2016 because Ulster had to rearrange a fixture against Oyonnax after the Paris terrorist attacks.

That meant the focus was on the start of the Six Nations.

It got worse, that season the Guinness PRO12 try of the season only featured scores that happened on Sky Sports.

Subsequently Adam Hughes' wonder try wasn't considered and has fallen through the cracks somewhat; even the Dragons' own try of the season footage on YouTube cuts out the beginnings of an effort that started with turnover ball deep inside their own half.

The ball was worked wide to the right for Ashton Hewitt to beat six men before some slick handling ended with Carl Meyer's grubber kick putting Hughes over for a score that featured 10 players.

The Dragons have always had the ability to play some dashing stuff – and this weekend they return to the scene of one of their most stunning performances in Newcastle two years ago – but moments have usually been fleeting.

The early stages of this campaign provide the hope that the Rodney Parade side will be buccaneers on a more regular basis.

They have recorded back-to-back bonus points in the league and crossed for 14 tries in six games at an average of 2.3 (in 22 games they scored 38 last season and the year before it was 33).

We have already seen crackers by Hallam Amos against Connacht, Will Talbot-Davies at Ulster and two at Cardiff Blues from wings Adam Warren and George Gasson.

Sometimes there are slim pickings for Dragons' try of the season vote at their awards night.

They've already already ensured that won't be the case in May, the challenge is to keep thrilling as the weather turns.