Boss Dean Ryan has set his Dragons the challenge of coming back into training ‘in a better place’ – but admits a new-look environment and way of life will take some getting used to for everyone.
Officials at Dragons are busy working on return to training preparations and protocols, after news that the Guinness PRO14 has set a target date of a return to action in mid-August.
Director of Dragons Rugby, Ryan, acknowledges the return will not be without its challenges, with social distancing measures in place and limited numbers.
But he wants his players to look to enjoy the resumption after months of uncertainty over any return and the completion of the 2019/20 campaign.
“We have set ourselves the target to come out of this better than anybody else, not wallow in the challenge that it is, instead come back in a better place,” he said.
“Now we have timelines we can structure and work out how we come back together.
“Players will start to sharpen, know what they need to do to get ready and we’ve got to get the stages right to bring people back together.
“Things we are used to, and a lot of what we know, is not going to be the same, certainly for the next few months.
“It is a huge challenge for all of us about how we get better in a world that we don’t quite understand yet.
“We must keep the welfare of players as our top priority,” he added.
“People have to remember that preparation and training isn’t just about conditioning. These guys are used to interaction, they are used to team sport.”
Reflecting on the last few months, Ryan has also spoken about the challenges of not knowing when the sport could return.
“When lockdown was first announced nobody actually thought 12 weeks later that we would still be in this situation,” he said.
“We had always been on a three or four-week timeline, where we might return. We were desperate to retain some of the season and get going as soon as possible.
“Twelve weeks on that does seem ludicrous, but for the first few weeks that was how you talked. You talked about returning in May or June.
“It’s been a challenge and it still is a challenge. Restrictions in Wales are still significant and how we make the steps back now is crucial.
“When you are used to rugby being so much at the front of your life, it is like being on a treadmill at a really fast pace,” he added. “It is week to week and everything else is something on the side.
“When it stopped, for me initially there was frustration sat at home. I’m not adverse to my own company, but I found it hard to be without a target.
“Not having rugby at the forefront has made us better at other things. We now need to keep those things going when rugby comes back.
“If those things are important we have got to keep them alive when rugby comes back to the fore.”
It is a huge challenge for all of us about how we get better in a world that we don’t quite understand yet...