With the well received appointment of the New Dragons Head Coach Bernard Jackman, and the many change initiatives that have already been introduced into our Region, has come a more open and engaging attitude towards Supporters, which obviously we applaud and value greatly.
One of these new initiatives has been Bernard opening training sessions at Ystrad Mynach for Supporters to attend, and view for themselves his vision for the team, and the methods he intends to introduce. What is clear already, is there is an intensity and clarity of thinking in training, with the Players aware of exactly what is expected of them.
The recurring theme of the Pre Season sessions we've witnessed so far, is core skills and decision making under fatigue, where Bernard and the staff will stress the players to physical limits and then encourage them to complete precise team runs or skill based drills replicating in-game conditions as much as practical.
The sessions have all been clearly well defined, with a fast and seamless transition between sets, and the players constantly on the move. One such training run was fatiguing players through cardio and then resistance based stations, and then rotating through very accurate and high paced handling drills. This was then continually repeated over, with high standards expected to be sustained throughout.
Throughout the training the mood and spirits within the squad seem high, and despite the physically brutal nature of the sessions, it is evident that the lads were enjoying the challenge and really thriving in the environment.
Anybody that has spent any time with this Dragons squad will undoubtedly testify that they are a superb group of guys, and to see them working without some of the stresses and baggage of last season is something that is really refreshing and encouraging for the season ahead.
With the much publicised number of young local talent within the Squad, Bernard has often stated that their continued development is down to the environment that he and his coaching staff develop and foster. Watching training, and seeing some of our undoubtedly high quality young players being challenged and pushed to limits really bodes well for their continued progression in the game.
Once you start considering the names of some of the talent at the Region, the list becomes almost endless, with the likes of Leon Brown, Elliot Dee, Cory Hill, Max Williams, Robson Blake, Ollie Griffiths, Harri Keddie, James Benjamin a very small selection in the pack, and AOB, Dorian Jones, Arwel Robson, Jack Dixon, Tyler Morgan, Hallam Amos and Ashton Hewitt another small list of the young backs available to us. With the right environment, access to the coaching and resources that will hopefully come next season, and the right amount of game-time, it would be great to imagine a number of those names being considered for international honours in the future.
What is also notable about Bernard's well received intent to open training for Supporters is the time that the Players all make to engage with those that have taken the time to attend.
It is fantastic to see this openness, and the intent to develop further the sense of a family within the Dragons' community.
From our perspective this not only fosters a far stronger bond between Supporters and their team, but also affords the Supporters the insight into how much it all means to the Players, and how much they value our time and Support.
This is also highlighted by the efforts of Bernard Jackman himself, who will always take time out to come across and chat with Supporters, and often give up his time and resources to help coaches from the Region's community game. This level of engagement and support with the Rugby community of our Region is to be applauded, and is something that is encouraging for the months ahead.
If you are a Dragons Supporter, or coach within the Region, we'd encourage you strongly to attend a few sessions at Ystrad Mynach when you can, it is a fascinating insight into the pro game, offers a number of rewarding experiences, and is overall a hugely positive experience.