With pre-season now underway, the Dragons have begun preparations for the new season and the next step of their comprehensive plan to develop a model Welsh region by 2020.
Fourteen new players have been added to the Dragons’ Senior squad ahead of next season and now Jackman has moved to strengthen his coaching, analysis, nutrition and conditioning provision in order to ensure the very best environment within which his side can grow.
Preparations for the 2018/19 campaign are already underway in earnest with many of the Dragons playing squad now reporting back for pre-season training, including new signings Ryan Bevington, Aaron Jarvis, Dafydd Howells and Jordan Williams joining incumbents Gavin Henson, Lewis Evans, Tavis Knoyle, Zane Kirchner and teammates.
Jackman is determined that his backroom Dragons team will set standards off the field which will enable his players fulfil their potential on it – standards exemplified by club captain Cory Hill who led Wales out for the first Test of their tour against Argentina last Saturday.
"Through an aggressive and ambitious staff recruitment process, matching our player recruitment drive we have added more skills and expertise to our coaching team to be able to drive forwards our team performances on the field,” he said.
“There’s been much said of our new playing recruits with 14 new signings, but preparing our players properly will ensure we can perform to our potential. We have been under resourced in terms of support staff for a long time and its vital that we provide this generation of players and future generations the support that will help them maximise their talent”
Double Grand Slam winner Evans (‘08, ‘12) will support forwards coach Ceri Jones, specifically in areas of lineout strategy and kick-off reception skills and, indirectly, replaces the departing T Rhys Thomas,
Evans who has 33 Wales caps and, after retiring from playing in April 2017 due to injury, started his coaching career at Treorchy before joining Cross Keys, will also join the coaching team led by James Chapron set to take charge of the newly created U23 development side at the region.
Norris has been appointed as the Dragons head of performance analysis and joins from Aviva Premiership finalists Exeter Chiefs where he has worked since 2011.
A WRU Level 3 coach, he gained an MSc Performance Analysis Masters Degree from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2009 and brings extensive experience not just from his time in the Aviva Premiership, but also from working with WRU Age Grade teams and the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues academies as well as at both BBC and S4C.
"I love the journey that Simon has been on with the Exeter Chiefs going from the Championship to Premiership Champions. He will be a key addition in helping us build and refine the Game Plan that we feel is best suited to this group of players."
Elsewhere Ryan Harris, who has been head of strength and conditioning at the Dragons since 2014, becomes the senior practitioner in the department with the departure of head of elite performance Huw Bevan, benefits from two new additions to his team.
Australian Michael Symes and Jack Phelan, have been recruited to assist Harris and both have impressive CVs and invaluable experience in delivering athletic development and rehabilitation programmes.
Symes comes to the Region from the Western Force Super Rugby franchise and, previously, the Aussie Rules outfit South Fremantle FC - he has also had two stints with Rugby WA State Rugby 7s.
Phelan enjoyed 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup success with the Black Ferns and was also GPS Analyst and S&C coach with Bay of Plenty rugby in the ITM Cup having initially spent an Internship with the Waikato Chiefs.
Finally Doug Crichton, who has had stints with British Cycling and Melbourne Rebels, has been appointed as a full time Nutritionist, although Jackman admits there is more recruitment to come as he fine tunes his boot room.
“Being back in pre-season early gives us a chance to rehabilitate some of the injuries that we suffered last season, but also develop our power and robustness to reduce our injury risk going forward"
“Whilst we have said farewell to both Huw (Bevan) and TR (Rhys Thomas),” added Jackman, “and we thank them for their hard work during their time with Dragons, we’re delighted to welcome these new recruits to the back room staff ahead of the new season. There will be further additions to coaching team as our pre-season gets underway.”