Dean Ryan: Dragons need to balance books after strong signings

The Dragons will have a long list of starts to balance the books for next season after making Welsh prop Rob Evans their ninth summer signing.

The Rodney Parade area has seen a strong recruitment campaign with Evans heading east to fight for the 1 shirt with fellow loose international Rhodri Jones, who will arrive from the Ospreys.

The Dragons have also signed Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts, locks Sean Lonsdale and George Nott from Exeter and the London Irish, Clermont fly-half JJ Hanrahan, Bath center Max Clark, Highlanders at the outside fullback Sio Tomkinson and Scarlets fly-half/fullback Angus O’Brien.

They made the conscious decision to operate with a smaller, more focused squad, with all new signings being established professionals ready to step straight into the XV.

However, it does mean a string of players are heading for the exit with a starting roster to be announced ahead of the United Rugby Championship final with the Lions on Saturday.

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan is happy to risk being vulnerable if an injury glut in one position leaves them short in 2022/23.

Dean Ryan, Boss of the Dragons

“There is no doubt that change is coming for us and we have to change,” said the boss, who will be enjoying his fourth season in the Rodney Parade hotseat.

“Part of the change is making tough decisions and although it’s late in the season, we’re getting as much out of that as we can.

“There are two or three conversations that need to be put away, but I hope they will be finished before the weekend. It is a reality that we have more departures than entries.

“We have to change the quality of the people who are available to us week after week.

“We had to make a conscious effort to change the type of people we bring here and we have to take risks supporting them with a few youngsters. The balance of the team has to change and is changing.”

Of the current senior squad, the Argus understand that 17 players are yet to announce new offers and have contracts expiring this summer.

These people are Cory Allen, Dan Babos, Dan Baker, Greg Bateman, Mesake Doge, Tom Griffiths, Jonah Holmes, Owen Jenkins, Josh Lewis, Evan Lloyd, Joe Maksymiw, Jared Rosser, Aki Seiuli, Will Talbot-Davies, Huw Taylor, Adam Warren and Max Williams.

Loanees Taylor Davies and Jordan Olowofela will return to the Scarlets and Leicester respectively.

South Wales Argus: GONE: Jamie RobertsGONE: Jamie Roberts

Former Wales internationals Jamie Roberts, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis and Tavis Knoyle all left in the 2021/22 campaign.

Ryan pointed out that the Dragons didn’t take advantage of a funding boost to bring in their nine new rookies.

“We have to balance what we have as a budget. It hasn’t increased in any form, so if we invest in more people, we have to downsize,” he said.

“There is no extra money. People are aware of the differences between the regions and we are the most challenged.

“People have to get rid of the myth that has changed. It has not been an easy year, we have to change and to do that we have to take risks in a different area.”