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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 17 September, 2019
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'We just don't have good enough players': No tip-toeing towards Dragons rebuild for Jackman

‘We need to try and up-skill them this year and see who is worth keeping and who’s not.’

Jackman shares a pre-match word with Leo Cullen
Jackman shares a pre-match word with Leo Cullen
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

BERNARD JACKMAN MADE no secret that he wasn’t expecting anything to come smoothly or quick in his first season at the Dragons.

But that didn’t make it any easier to watch a callow Leinster side utterly rout his team 54 -10 on Friday.

Even with the half century on the board though, the former hooker faced up towards the media room in a bitterly cold RDS when a sneaky dart for the exit would have been tempting for most.

“I’ve just got to get through this year. We’re going to have shit days in Ireland unfortunately,” said Jackman who will turn his thoughts to a home clash with Ulster this weekend still missing his international contingent thanks to Wales’ extra November Test outing.

Evidence of the green shoots for the 2018/19 season emerged yesterday as Lions and Wales flanker Ross Moriarty committed to ply his trade in Rodney Parade and Jackman would dearly love George North to join him when he crosses back over the Severn. Top grade players of that ilk can have a much greater affect that just their own actions on the field. Their attitudes and approach can be benchmarked to influence people all around them in the organisation.

However, until that transfusion of new talent comes for Jackman, he must do the groundwork with the resources he has and grin and bear the moments when the plan goes belly up.

“We’ve upped the intensity of training so they are much fitter than they were. But we still have this ability to have mental catastrophes and compound those. We go in front (10 – 0 against Leinster) and then we have a couple of absolute brain farts.

We have a lot of youngsters who I suppose haven’t had the exposure – - it’s a massive rebuild. We’re going to recruit next year. That’s just the way it is. We just don’t have good enough players.

“This is a unique year for the Dragons. We don’t want to be giving (less experienced players) game time next year when we have more short-term ambitions.

“We need to try and up-skill them this year and see who is worth keeping and who’s not. I suppose, fast-track them to make sure that next year they’re usable players in our depth chart.”

Gavin Henson dejected after his side conceded a third try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jackman likens the path he is following to that of current Scotland boss Gregor Townsend at Glasgow or Rob Baxter at Exeter Chiefs. What both men have in common is that they had time and space to evolve the game and culture at their club.

Jackman is beginning from a much lower base than the Warriors were at when Townsend took the reins in in 2012 and so his goal for the region is a place in the Champions Cup. It would be an immensely satisfying achievement, but Jackman will jump to be the first to tell you how much work is needed before they come close to that level.

“If I can get the Dragons to be a Champions Cup side, I think that would be a massive marker on my CV and that will lead to either to becoming a team like Exeter. Glasgow under Gregor Townsend, dismantled them and rebuilt them over five years to the way he wanted them to be. Now he’s left and they’re a phenomenal side under Dave Rennie.

We see these players every day. We know they are not as good as Leinster, Munster or Ulster, but when we put a couple more back in next week and when we play at home and tighten up a little bit, we can do okay.”

“We have to just bite our hands and make sure that when we come back to Leinster next year or Munster, Ulster, Glasgow, we have a team who are competitive.”

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Sean Farrell

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