Flanagan to empower Dragons' on-field leaders after shock rise to calling shots

DELIGHT: The Dragons celebrate their win against Munster
DELIGHT: The Dragons celebrate their win against Munster

DRAGONS head coach Dai Flanagan is leaning on his on-field leaders after a sudden rise to calling the shots at Rodney Parade.

Flanagan will be at the helm for the second United Rugby Championship game on the spin against the Sharks in Newport on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).

The former fly-half has effectively been given a swift promotion after being brought in this summer by director of rugby Dean Ryan, whose departure is being finalised.

He was not at Rodney Parade for Sunday’s shock 23-17 win against Munster and a package needs to be sorted out before any official announcements, with the added complication of him being on the Dragons’ board being a barrier to a swift resolution.

Flanagan said before the season that he was keen to empower his squad and that has been especially crucial as he gets to grips with added responsibility.

Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan

“I try to provide as much opportunity during the day for people to say what they see. The more the group can feel ownership, the more belief we will have,” he said.

“My job is to make sure that what is really good gets put in and what's not so good doesn't.

“There are no dumb questions or ideas, it just might not be right for now and we'll put it in the bank.

That's what excites me here, the intelligent people that we have got around the place.”

Flanagan & Co are now working towards ensuring there is no drop-off after they upset the odds against Munster.

“We had a recovery session and learning day on Monday because of the short turnaround and the group were very honest with each other about what was good and what wasn't quite so good,” he said.

“What has been a massive change is that there is some belief here, but we've got to get consistency.

There is too much quality at this place – good people and good pros – for it to be a flash in the pan.

“We did it last Sunday, nobody did it for us. We have shown what we can do, replicate it and get better week to week.”

JOY: JJ Hanrahan slotted a final penalty with the clock in the red to seal the Dragons' win

The Dragons can match last season’s paltry tally of two wins if they back up their win against Munster.

They flew into the Irish province with aggression and intensity but also dramatically improved their discipline, going from 21 penalties conceded in Edinburgh to just eight.

The Dragons haven’t won back-to-back games since March 2021 and last season failed to hit the heights again the week after successes at Connacht and the Scarlets.

“We need to nail this week, making sure that we have put enough work in so that we are prepared but also that we recover well,” said Flanagan.

“It was quite an emotional day with a first win at Rodney Parade for a long time. I heard someone say that it can't be a World Cup final, we need to make sure that emotionally we repeat where we were.”