DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan admits Taine Basham is suffering from second-season syndrome, but is confident that the dynamic back rower will adapt to no longer being the new kid on the block.

The 21-year-old from Talywain made his regional debut as a teenager at Parc y Scarlets in January 2018 but it was last season that he burst onto the scene.

Basham scored nine tries in 20 appearances and a hat-trick against Castres in the European Challenge Cup earned selection in the Wales squad for the fixture against the Barbarians.

He maintained those high standards to be called up for the Six Nations as injury cover and it is likely he would have enjoyed a summer tour were it not for the coronavirus pandemic.

Basham was nominated for PRO14 newcomer of the season and won Argus Dragon of the Year but has had a slow start to 2020/21.

Cardiff Blues back rowers Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham are now the bright young things after winning caps in the Autumn Nations Cup but Ryan is confident that his protégé will respond.

The Dragons management have given the youngster plenty of time for reflection and are hopeful that they will reap the rewards from the busy flanker heading into 2021.

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“I think there is a time when you burst on to the scene that you don’t think a huge amount about the game,” said the director of rugby.

“Lots of things work for you and people don’t know anything about you. As people get more understanding of you and what your potential strengths might be, they look to nullify you and the game changes for you.

“The space that was there disappears and you have to adapt to that. You hear a lot of people say the second and third seasons can be tough for a new player and it’s for those reasons.

“Things are different to the past. You get through that period and we’ve tried to have a balance of playing Taine and getting him to reflect on his game.”

Basham had to settle for being a replacement in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bristol when Ryan opted for the industry of Harri Keddie along with Wales internationals Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty.

Last time out against Munster it was the combative Ben Fry that got the start, Basham one again being given a role of adding energy from the bench.

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“Playing somebody though a period where things are changing for them all the time isn’t necessarily the best way for them to learn how to deal with that,” said Ryan, himself a former back row forward.

“We’ve also had Harrison Keddie who has come on a storm. He’s done consistently well whereas last year he was probably not as confident as he is in his game this year.

“It’s put more competition back into that area which is beneficial for all of them.”

After a four-week enforced break because of a coronavirus outbreak, the Dragons return to action on Sunday when they take on Benetton in Treviso.