CERI Jones says the Dragons are no longer pushovers, proudly pointing to an international-stacked pack as evidence of a job well done in his time as forwards coach.

The former Wales prop's four-season spell at Rodney Parade ended when director of rugby Dean Ryan opted to bring in Mefin Jones from Worcester.

Jones would have liked to stay on but is not bitter – "it's down to the person that carries the can to choose the people around him" – and has moved on safe in the knowledge that the Dragons are no longer a soft touch.

"The pack are in a better place now than that when I arrived and the team is in a better place than when I arrived," he said.

"I am proud of what I achieved in my time there because when I joined the Dragons we didn't have any internationals in the forward pack, so it's been a really big achievement to produce Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Ollie Griffiths and Aaron Wainwright, while Taine Basham has trained with Wales as well.

"With a similar budget all the way through we managed to start producing internationals and Wales now pick from the Dragons without worries. When I arrived there were good players there but Wales almost seemed frightened to pick from the Dragons.

"Those boys have gone on to prove themselves at the international level and I look forward to seeing how they kick on."

Campaign Series:

Former hooker Davies has a hard act to follow in ex-prop Jones, who was a cup winner with Newport RFC before going on to become a Harlequins great.

That Ryan's high-profile summer signings are both backs – Wales internationals Nick Tompkins and Jonah Holmes – is a source of contentment.

"If you think back to where we were, the Dragons were consistently struggling in the scrum," said Jones, who had a spell as head coach after the departure of Bernard Jackman.

"I remember watching the Edinburgh game (the 2015 Challenge Cup semi-final) and they were absolutely pulverised but look at the Dragons now and over the last couple of years we have never really been completely done up front.

"The only time was probably when the Scarlets did a bit of a job on us but that was when we had injuries and were down to our fourth choice.

"We have made big strides during my time and that was the came before last season under Dean – Bernard did a good job with the recruitment up front.

"You can see now that they have added to the back line but haven't really added to the pack yet because it's in a good place.

"The building has been more that one season and I hope that it continues and this group get to where I think they can be, which is certainly one of the top two regions in Wales."

Campaign Series:

That Jones won't get to help achieve that with his home region is a source of frustration.

"As the saying goes, 'a new brush sweeps clean' and everywhere Dean goes he tends to freshen it up," said Jones. "That's his way, and I don't think he'd mind me saying that.

"He comes in and does it in his own way. He is bringing in people who he knows closer than me and has probably worked with more.

"I'd been there four years and was probably more of the old, and I suppose when you are trying to move things forward you want fresh and new.

"That's what it felt like and it was disappointing because I would have liked to carry on and really see where that team could've gone.

"But I'm not bitter about it – when you are the head guy then it is your neck on the line."

Jones is now working on the family farm just outside Usk – 300 acres of land with 750 sheep and 50-odd cattle – while plotting his next move.

The coronavirus pandemic means that clubs are tightening their belts but he won't be rushing into the first job that crops up.

"There are limited jobs at the moment given the circumstances," said Jones. "It's not the best time in the world to be unemployed but fortunately throughout my career, playing and coaching, I've always had the farm as a back-up.

"Myself, my brother and my dad have been partners in the farm since I was 16 or 17, so it was always something that I can fall back on.

"Having said that, I am actively looking for the next opportunity and, importantly, the right opportunity and not just any job.

"I want it to be something that I can get my teeth into and I feel that I have a huge amount to offer as a coach.

"I think that my CV is pretty good – I've coached professionally in England and Wales, plus I was a coach for a couple of years at Ebbw Vale and helped them to the title.

"I've had seven good years of experience and it's just waiting for the right role, whether head coach or forwards coach."

Campaign Series:

Jones may not have a rugby role at the moment but he has been keeping his eye in, watching action from New Zealand and sharing ideas with fellow coaches online.

"I been in touch with quite a few people over this time," he said. "I've been trying to be proactive in lockdown.

"I've touched base with (former Scotland prop) Euan Murray over in America talking scrums, I've spoken to Roger Ripol who is Biarritz's scrum coach in France, I've connected with various people and been involved in coaching seminars.

"It's been a useful time for self-reflection and honing my craft, because you don't normally have this much time to gaze at what you have been doing, looking at what worked and what didn't.

"It's' been really interesting and it's nice to get ideas, step back and reflect ahead of the next role so that I can go in with a clear idea about how I am going to take the next team to the next level."