DRAGONS boss and former Wasps captain Dean Ryan admitted his surprise that Dai Young has stepped down from first-team duties at the English club, writes Chris Kirwan.

The ex-Wales prop had been director of rugby at the Premiership side since 2011.

Wasps are ninth in the league after nine games, while they made a pool stage exit from this season's European Challenge Cup.

Wasps issued a brief statement which said: "Director of rugby Dai Young will be stepping back from first-team duties for an interim period.

"Lee Blackett will step up to interim head coach. Further announcements will be made in due course."

Wasps' next league game is away against Leicester on Saturday, a game that would have been a relegation battle were it not for Saracens' punishment for salary cap breaches.

Wasps have not won a major trophy since lifting the league title in 2008.

Young, though, did lead them to the 2017 Premiership final, when they were beaten 23-20 by Exeter after extra-time at Twickenham.

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"I'm surprised," said Ryan, who made 73 appearances for Wasps when they were based in London rather than Coventry.

"I don't think that it's news that it has been a difficult time for Wasps but it's never just about what is happening on the field.

"There have been definitely been some challenges in terms of who they have been able to recruit compared to some of the players of the past and that is a difficult expectation to manage.

"I am always disappointed if a director of rugby is moved on because I know how difficult it is to stay in that space.

"I've been around long enough to remember when Dai brought them away from relegation in really tough times and there were some good times when they were 10 minutes away from winning a final."

Young enjoyed a successful playing career with Swansea and Cardiff. He won 51 caps for Wales and played in three Tests on the 1989 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.