BERNARD Jackman is aiming to get the Dragons in a position where he can return to Dublin with expectation rather than hope.

The former Ireland hooker was appointed as head coach at Rodney Parade in the summer and this evening goes back to his old stamping ground to face Leinster in the Guinness PRO14 (kick-off 7.35pm).

Jackman won the Celtic League with the province in 2008 and started at Murrayfield when they became European champions for the first time the following year.

His returns to Irish soil have been miserable this season with a pair of hammerings, 52-25 at Ulster and 49-6 at Munster when shipping a combined total of 15 tries, and the boss knows that they are huge underdogs tonight.

“I am looking forward to being able to go to Leinster confident. At the moment I am not, I am going there hopeful,” he conceded.

“As we grow, we want to be able to go Ireland, or wherever, and feel that if we pitch up then we can win.

“I know that we can win on Friday but have we seen enough evidence that we should expect to win? No, but that’s where we’ve got to get to.

“We want to be a quality team and to go across to Leinster, no matter what time of year it is, with real aspirations. At the moment it’s hope that we can pull something out of the bag.

“We’ve used these Irish trips to blood players and hopefully it’s the only year I ever have to do that.

“No matter where we go, I want to really have confidence in our ability to win. Can we win at Leinster? Yes, but we will have to be unbelievably accurate.

“We need to get enough positives to give us momentum for a really exciting December when we can continue to build a relationship with our fans at Rodney Parade.”

Leinster are without a glut of Ireland stars because of the autumn finale against Argentina a mile to the north tomorrow afternoon but have frequently shown the ability to brush off absentees, as they did when winning 39-16 in Newport in round one.

Even if the Dragons don’t repeat their stunning 2015 upset at the RDS, Jackman expects his charges to provide plenty of reason for optimism ahead of home December dates against Ulster, Enisei-STM, Newcastle, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys.

“We’ve had two very hard trips to Ireland and Leinster, although they are missing some players, have the best depth in Europe,” said the head coach.

“We know that we’ve got to up things massively but get through this and we’ve got a block of home games. The schedule has been tough but December is our month to profit.

“We’ll look to get as much as we can out of Leinster to give us some momentum for Ulster and the games that follow it.”

Only nine players from matchday squad that triumphed 16-14 in 2015 are still on the Dragons’ books – prop Brok Harris, lock Rynard Landman, back rowers James Thomas, Nic Cudd and James Benjamin, fly-half Dorian Jones, Wales wing Hallam Amos, centre Jack Dixon and hooker Rhys Buckley.

Centre Pat Leach, who was forced to retire because of a knee injury, scored the try while wing Tom Prydie kicked 11 points.