Bernard Jackman plans to recruit Warren Gatland and his Wales coaching team as part of the Dragons revolution.
Head coach Jackman has ambitious plans at Rodney Parade following the Welsh Rugby Union takeover and part of those involve calling on the talents of Gatland, Rob Howley and Robin McBryde.
Having recruited Gavin Henson and South African Zane Kirchner, former Ireland hooker Jackman intends to use his friendship with Gatland to ensure he is not short of coaching back-up.
The two former international hookers formed a friendship when Gatland was the Ireland coach who handed Jackman his first cap and the Lions chief played an influential role in the former Grenoble coach taking up his post with the Dragons.
“I have always stayed in contact with Warren and it was through him I had a couple of chats with (WRU CEO) Martyn Phillips. It’s going to be great to have Warren as a sounding board and to be able to tap into his expertise,” said Jackman.
“He gave me my first professional contract with Connacht and when he got the Ireland job he took me to South Africa as part of a big squad in 1998.
“Warren is a guy I would always ring for advice and he is going to come down with Rob Howley, Neil Jenkins, and Robin McBryde to do a bit of coaching at the Dragons.
“Everyone in Wales wants and needs the Dragons to be successful and I believe that if I can get the environment right, challenge the players to raise their standards and give them the right game-plan, that we will win more games.”
Having watched every video of the Dragons playing last season, Jackman made a few quick observations. The front five weren’t good enough and the fitness levels weren’t high enough. After two weeks of pre-season training, he has changed his opinion on one of those quickfire views.
“We have a huge amount of work to do with our front five. Our scrum was a big weakness last season. The scrum is a high priority because if we can’t implement change, there then we won’t be able to go where we want to go with our game plan,” said Jackman.
“When you are 11th in a league of 12 then everything is a high priority.
“There are certain things in which we need a drastic improvement — and quickly — because there isn’t really an area of the game in which we are in the top four.
“But after working with the players over the past few weeks, and having checked all the data, I must say I was wrong about their fitness levels.
“What I was seeing on the tapes was a team competing well for 60 minutes, but then dropping off.
“I thought that was down to fitness, but it wasn’t. The S&C at this club is very good and their fitness scores are right up there with the best of the other regions. There is still a lot of work to do in that area given the style of game we want to play, but it is not as big a concern.”