Welsh rugby favourite starts his new job this week and he could be the signing of the summer

This week, Filo Tiatia will make his return to Wales - over a decade after he first left.

His move away from Swansea, after a number of successful years at the Ospreys, was - in his own words - "hard in a million different ways".

When he arrived in Wales the first time around, Tiatia and his wife Sally had two kids. When they headed to Japan five years later, they had five. To say Wales is a special place for the two-cap New Zealand back-row is a bit of an understatement.

His second spell in Wales, which begins this week, will see him take on the task of defence coach at the Dragons.

It speaks volumes to how Tiatia is viewed that a number of Ospreys fans seemed disappointed that he wasn't heading back to Swansea - even with the stellar work Mark Jones has done with the Ospreys' defence this year.

While the coming days will see the 52-year-old take on a viewing role from afar ahead of Judgement Day, the hope for Dai Flanagan is that Tiatia will bring a similar influence to his time at the Ospreys.

"I love what Filo can bring to us," Flanagan, who played alongside Tiatia at the Ospreys, told WalesOnline. "Not just in terms of coaching the defence, but also culturally.

"The standards he'll set and the expectations he'll have. He's a winner. When he was at the Ospreys, they won. Wherever he's gone, he's there to win. That brings the expectations and mentality then.

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"What he is is a very calm human being. He's a family man and he treats people really well. But he has expectations and he's a believer that you earn what you get. We need to go earn some stuff now because the last few years, we probably haven't earned too much. We've probably got to restart on that."

Flanagan will know first-hand the influence Tiatia had in Swansea. Ask anyone involved at that time and they'd cite the former All Black as a key catalyst.

One writer once referred to him as 'the single most influential player the Ospreys ever signed', while Martyn Williams said he was the one player Xavier Rush feared.

The influence Flanagan seeks goes beyond tactical. It's cultural. The Dragons will finish the season as the lowest-placed Welsh region, but Flanagan has noted how many games they've been in at the 60 minute mark, only to fall short at the end.

It's a mentality thing - something Tiatia has previously addressed about his arrival at the Ospreys.

"There were a lot of things that needed to change from a cultural perspective. I just felt there was a lot of hypocrisy, wrongly or rightly," Tiatia told WalesOnline in 2020.

"People would say one thing, but then do something completely different. I guess it sort of happened over, particularly the first year.

"For teams to be competitive and to be professional, you need to be really consistent in our behaviours. And at that time, there were a few challenges around some of the behaviours that the team were doing that for me and others didn't feel acceptable.

"And I guess there were different ways of trying to educate the players that it was probably unacceptable.

"There were a lot of questions around some of the things we did. And then internally, it was about how we grab a group of players from a leadership point of view to change some behaviours that we were doing that were actually affecting others in different ways.

"The analogy is, I guess, would you do something or say something in front of your mother? You probably wouldn't.

"It's little things but in the grand scheme of things, they become big when it comes down to the crunch of who would actually stay in the fight and wouldn't give up.

"There were a lot of question marks for me with players I was going shoulder to shoulder with. Pressure does different things to different people.

"But we quickly got over that and we drew a line in the sand. All the players agreed to it with management staff and we forged ahead with it.

"We created something that no one can take away. It's all written in stone. We had some really key people that were critical to their success."

That was achieved when Tiatia was a player, but his coaching CV is equally impressive. Having started coaching at the Ospreys, he then returned to his former club, Toyota Verblitz, in Japan - becoming head coach after a year there.

In Japan, he also served as head coach of their Super Rugby franchise Sunwolves, as well as working as an assistant to the Japan national team. Elsewhere, he has also worked in Super Rugby as forwards coach for Moana Pasifika and Auckland Rugby.

His work at the Sunwolves in particularly trying circumstances - an inability to keep hold of Test-level players, a short pre-season and a ridiculous travel schedule - probably sets him nicely for a return to Welsh rugby's current state.

For the Dragons - without a defence coach all season - just getting themselves to a position to be able to hire Tiatia has meant Flanagan wearing a number of different hats.

"It's been a long season," adds Flanagan. "I haven't really stuck my head out of the water because I was set certain tasks by the owners this year that we needed to achieve off-field and, if I look back and reflect, that's the stuff I can be really proud of.

"How we managed to restructure our pathway and our squad, while saving money along the way. A lot of that has fallen on my shoulders, to pick up some jobs here and there.

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"It's not part of my job description. But I'm a Gwent man and I want my son, who's 10, to be proud of the region and have a region to play for in 10 years' time. It was important and this year was a big one for us, in that sense.

"We're in a lot stronger position as an organisation now, because we've cleared a lot of debt. Any investment now goes in to grow, not to clear debt.

"Any money we now get from the Union or our owners goes towards developing and investing to grow. That's what we can look forward to building on - hence how we've been able to get someone like Filo in off-field. We can grow now."

Whatever growth they achieve, the hope is that Tiatia will be a key component of it. Even now, years on from the end of his playing career, he's remembered fondly in Welsh rugby circles.

"When I was younger it was people like Jerry Collins and Filo Tiatia," said Wales and Dragons back-row Taine Basham last year. "They were outstanding players of their time, and I really looked up to them when I was younger."

Now, Basham and several others will get the chance to look up to him all over again. And that all starts this week.