I WRITE this from our camp in Italy, where hopefully we will lay the foundations for our season on and off the pitch.

We travelled on Wednesday to get ready for tomorrow's Guinness PRO14 game against Zebre in Parma.

The logistics are challenging for this fixture so this is the best way to avoid travel disruption and prepare well, although the new 'kitmen' would probably disagree after the 1,000km drive down.

It's good to get away as a squad to spend time together and this presents the chance to bond as a group out of the regular routine, to train and recover more efficiently and to continue learning and developing our game plan.

We have a few things to tweak after last week's game in Munster but we've also had the chance to develop the off-field culture.

Spending four or five days in each other's company is useful and can help when we need to dig deep for each other at moments throughout the season.

It's been useful because we didn't have a pre-season tour… in fact, we've not had many in all the years that I have been here!

When I was just coming through we went to Newquay for a few days – staying in a B&B before taking on Cornish Pirates – and then there was a trip to Ulster, which was certainly character building!

We stayed in university accommodation and it was a little bit depressing at times with the highlight being a trip on an open-top tour bus to Giants Causeway when it was tipping down.

A trip to Aberystwyth one year was very similar but provided lovely weather and a trip to the beach, which always makes morale a little better.

These sort of trips are really important regardless of whatever level you play at as they allow a chance to spend quality time with people who you will be shedding blood, sweat and tears with on the pitch, while they also provide memories that you can look back and laugh at later down the line. It's something that we have probably missed in the past few seasons at the club but this is far from a jolly and we have got through plenty of work ahead of a big game.

It's been a quite a quick turnaround after flying straight back from Munster, which allowed us to come in on Monday fresh and prepared.

Campaign Series:

We picked up a few bumps and bruises, which I guess goes to show that pre-season work is all well and good but there is nothing quite like real games.

Back row has always been a strength at the Dragons and that's definitely the case this season, but all of a sudden you can be stretched in any position.

With Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty on World Cup duty, James Benjamin out with a finger injury and Ollie Griffiths struggling with a groin problem, a position can go from a strength to an area of vulnerability but we will be able still put out a strong back row.

There was plenty of good from our game against Munster, although the scoreline doesn't really reflect that.

They are a strong side but the first 20 minutes was really good and I was encouraged by the way that we were putting them under pressure.

Thomond Park is a very impressive stadium and it was certainly silent for much of that first period when we applied pressure in their half, but we should have left with more points with the territory and possession we created.

They didn't panic, a sign of any good side and they know their gameplan so well; they are really well drilled in the area of strength that they have become renowned for throughout Europe.

Add in the fact that we still have yet to get the 50/50s away from home and it allowed them to get their driving lineout going and you know what is coming when pinned in your 22.

As an old coach would say, 'there's only so many times you can kick a door before it breaks' and even after some good defensive periods they crossed the whitewash.

The weather certainly played into Munster's hands on the day in Limerick but it should be better this weekend and that will allow us to play at high-tempo and go on the attack.

Fingers crossed this week's efforts in Italy will lead to a big performance and an away win to get the season up and running.