9:29am Friday 23rd May 2014
WALES boss Warren Gatland hopes that Newport Gwent Dragons' new training base can help give him plenty of selection headaches in the coming years, writes Chris Kirwan.
The New Zealander was at the official opening of the £6.8million Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence on Wednesday.
Gatland was impressed by the facility in Ystrad Mynach and believes the Dragons will reap the rewards from finally having a training base where everything is on one site.
"When I went to London Wasps we didn't have great facilities," said the Heineken Cup-winning coach. "I told the board to sell a couple of players and use the money for facilities because long-term they will have a bigger impact on results and performance than a few individuals.
"I think this will make a huge difference to the Dragons and help the region to develop but it's also a great facility for the area and I think Caerphilly council deserve a lot of credit for the project."
Gatland will take his team to South Africa next month but will also have a keen interest in events in his native New Zealand.
Wales Under-20s start their Junior World Championship campaign on June 2 and their 28-strong squad features 11 Dragons.
"There's real talent coming through in Gwent and the challenge for the region is to utilise those young players and bring them on," said Gatland, who capped teenage wing Hallam Amos last autumn and has been close to calling up centre Jack Dixon.
"It's challenging for coaches because 18 and 19-year-olds are far from the finished article; they have potential but will make big mistakes and you have to stick with them.
"Hopefully the young talent will keep getting opportunities at the Dragons. It will be a three or four-year programme but will really benefit the region."
The development of the Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence has been supported by Sport Wales, Welsh Government, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Welsh Football Trust.
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