New Head Coach Dai Flanagan cannot wait to get started with the Men of Gwent – admitting he has ‘unfinished business’ after joining Dragons.
Born in Caerphilly, Flanagan grew up in Cefn Hengoed and started his rugby journey with Penallta RFC before linking up with Pontypridd, aged 17.
His career took him to Pontypridd, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys before a move into coaching with the Scarlets.
But born and bred in the region and living just a short distance from the Dragons’ training centre, he is excited by the next chapter of his career back home.
“I do feel I have got a bit of unfinished business in this region because I never played for the region,” he said.
“I did sign for Newport and I thought that was my time to come home, but then the opportunity came along to start my next career by going to the Scarlets, so I retired from playing that summer.
“Being part of the Dragons is one thing I can tick off now and really strive to make this region better.
“It was tough leaving the Scarlets. I had some good times down there and there are a lot of good people there. But the opportunity here is too good.”
In terms of his approach, Flanagan insists his philosophy is all about players getting better.
“I want to see improvement week after week after week with them,” he said.
“We want boys to express themselves. You look at the new track here at Rodney Parade, it’s built for players to go and play well. You look at the squad that’s being built here, we want to go out and play, we want to be smart with it.
“My strengths are my day-to-day coaching. It’s about growing the performances on the field and from each individual in the environment.
“As much work as the players put in, I will put in,” he added. “I call it mirroring.
“So, if I ask someone to be a better passer, a better kicker, I am there with them all the time. It’s about setting high standards for them and making sure they are striving to be better daily.
“They have the fortunate opportunity that they are professional rugby players so why not be the best they can be?
Flanagan, who previously worked at Newport High School, will meet a new-look Dragons squad on Monday when they report back in for pre-season.
And with nine new signings, Flanagan is keen to start working with a talented squad.
He said: “The easiest way I guess I can explain it is I was sat at the dinner table and had some information through about the squad. My wife asked: ‘What are you thinking looking at it?’ and I couldn’t hide my excitement. “There was so much talent here already, then you add in the stardust that has been signed. I am really looking forward to meeting the playing group and getting started.”
They have the fortunate opportunity that they are professional rugby players so why not be the best they can be?