THE Dragons are preparing to have to do things differently when they return from lockdown – with the prospect of no team meetings until next year.

The Rodney Parade region are ramping up preparations for the conclusion of the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14, which has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus crisis.

Two rounds of derby action have been scheduled for August 22 and 29, which will help the Dragons tune up for a European Challenge Cup quarter-final at Bristol, which is likely to be on September 19.

Car shares have been ended and players will travel to Ystrad Mynach separately, where they will be directed into a parking space before having a temperature check and health screening.

The Dragons used to have team meetings in a large room upstairs in their base, the same room where they would eat breakfast and lunch together.

But when they return they will discuss matters outside on the 3G pitch, potentially while distancing in the stand or even on Zoom after heading back home, where players will wash their own kit.

The management team are working out the best way of getting their points across while keeping time in Ystrad Mynach to a minimum and will be watching how things are being done in England and Ireland, where teams have returned to training.

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"We must keep the welfare of players as our priority. People have to remember that preparation and training isn't just about conditioning. These guys are used to interaction, they are used to team sport," said director of rugby Dean Ryan.

"We have set ourselves the target to come out of this better than anybody else, not wallow in the challenge that it is, instead come out I a better place.

"Now we clear timelines we can structure and work out how we come back together.

"Now we have dates for games, players will start to sharpen, know what they need to do to get ready and we've got to get the stages right to bring people back together.

"We will be training in small groups of five or six, then move onto ten to 12. We won't be in a team room meeting for, probably, the rest of this year.

"Things we are used to, and a lot of what we know, is not going to be the same, certainly for the next three to four months.

"It is a huge challenge for all of us about how we get better in a world that we don't quite understand yet."

The Dragons haven't played since losing to Benetton at Rodney Parade on March 6.

The PRO14 was suspended on March 12 and the European quarter-final postponed on March 16, leading to Ryan's squad training solo.

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"When lockdown was first announced nobody actually thought that we would still be in this situation," said the director of rugby.

"We had always been on a three or four-week schedule where we might be returning to play. We were desperate to retain some of the season and get going as soon as possible.

"Three months on that does seem ludicrous, but for the first few weeks that was how you talked. You talked about returning in May or June.

"The most difficult thing hasn't necessarily been how we adapt training principles, but how we manage a group that is effectively standing still with a view that they might play again.

"We started to see it was going to really penalise some of the younger players in our group. Even if we came back and played three or four games, they were going to lose a whole summer of preparation.

"We split the group in two with the senior guys, who could benefit from the biggest period not playing rugby in their lives, having a rest.

"Some of the others, with whatever resources we could get to their houses, we could put on a September timetable.

"It's been a challenge and it still is a challenge. Restrictions in Wales are still significant and how we make the steps back is crucial."