THE 6,026 that headed to Rodney Parade for an end-of-season encounter with Treviso in 2014 were certainly rewarded for their loyalty when they were treated to an eye-catching performance by teenager Tyler Morgan.

The centre from Caerleon had made his Dragons debut in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at the Scarlets the previous autumn and his league bow had come in front of 30,000 at the Millennium Stadium when Pat Leach was unfit to feature against the Ospreys.

But the Rodney Parade clash with the Italians was the first time that a bright prospect, one that had impressed in the black and amber of Newport, really grabbed the attention as Lyn Jones’ side ended a seven-game losing streak.

Pace, power, balance, awareness – the Dragons undoubtedly had a gem.

Four-and-a-bit years on and serious injury misfortune has prevented Morgan from achieving what a player of his talent should have.

His CV is still pretty impressive – five caps, a start in a World Cup quarter-final, 66 regional appearances, two European semi-finals – but on the whole we have had to settle for a glimpse here, a magical moment there.

But it’s easy to forget that Morgan is just 23; time is on his side and hopefully the past month will lead to lift-off.

It was something of a surprise when he was one of six Dragons named in Warren Gatland’s squad for the autumn but the centre has grasped the chance.

He was always going to be behind Jonathan Davies in the pecking order and a solitary autumn appearance against Tonga was a realistic target.

Morgan grafted hard to earn that opportunity and then, after an early rib injury, went through the pain barrier to put in a strong performance that was rewarded with a first Test try.

It will have whetted his appetite and the Dragon’s post-match declaration on his desire to fight Davies for the 13 jersey was encouraging, even if at this stage it appears a little unrealistic given that Wales have arguably the best outside centre in the world.

One fears that Morgan's only hope of featuring at a second World Cup will come through a repeat of England 2015, when others' injury misfortune led to his call-up.

Davies is nailed on for that starting berth and with only 31 spots available, one imagines it will be George North and Owen Watkin/Scott Williams as his cover.

Nonetheless, Morgan is a contender for Japan and has a spring back in his step – that could be massive for his region.

Hallam Amos was tried at outside centre in Galway at the start of the month; a worthwhile experiment to try and get the ball in the hands of the Dragons' best back (and arguably best player) more often.

It was a move that wouldn’t be needed with a fit and firing Morgan, someone blessed with pace on the outside, a strong hand-off and offloading.

So many seasons have passed with us talking about the potentially potent back line only for Morgan, Amos, Jack Dixon and Ashton Hewitt to sadly endure way too much injury misery.

The Dragons boast one of the PRO14's most underrated players in Adam Warren - he is a real team player who produces the goods whether in midfield or on the wing - but Morgan is a player with the ability to transform the back line.

Morgan has hit double figures for Dragons games in just two of his four full seasons as a pro. If he can make that three then Bernard Jackman could well be able to talk of real progress in his second year at the helm.

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BERNARD Jackman was in the stands at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday night as a pundit for RTE Radio, being treated to Ireland’s stunning defensive display against the All Blacks.

The combination of discipline and aggression, two attributes so hard to marry, kept New Zealand tryless in Dublin.

You can argue who is the best defence coach in the world but one thing is for sure – they come from Wigan.

Andy Farrell gets the Irish snarling and Shaun Edwards has ensured Wales pride themselves on being frugal.

It’s fair to say that the Dragons are at the other end of the spectrum with their woes leading to the axing of defence coach Hendre Marnitz last weekend.

It is now head coach Jackman that will take the lead in trying to plug the leaks that have led to a whopping 127 tries conceded in the 29 league games since he arrived at Rodney Parade.

The former Ireland hooker has been drilling and drilling defence over the past fortnight and, while nobody is expecting miracles, there needs to be some progress when Edinburgh head to Newport on Sunday.

This season has been a familiar tale of woe, the Dragons have to battle for every three, five or seven points while their opponents have kept the scoreboard ticking without working up a sweat.

Jackman’s work with the defence will be key to his future in the hotseat and he certainly didn’t emerge unscathed from the Marnitz affair given that he appointed the affable South African.

It was slightly alarming to hear the head coach say that improvements to the defence can be made quickly – if that is the case then why did the man with the final say just leave his assistant to get on with misfiring systems?

But now it's Jackman’s name next to the defence and he needs his players to snarl on Sunday.

If they don’t then the boss will take a big gulp because on the horizon is Leinster and Euro trips to Northampton and Clermont before the festive derbies.