IT MAY be through necessity but Newport Gwent Dragons will give a glimpse of the future in Galway on Saturday.
Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan, aged 19 and 18 respectively, will line up together in midfield for only the second time in the Guinness Pro12 opener against Connacht.
The teenagers are the Dragons’ last fit centres after Pat Leach, one of the region’s unsung heroes, injured his right knee in last Friday’s pre-season win against Northampton.
The 29-year-old is expected to be out for six to eight weeks while Ashley Smith (foot) and Ross Wardle (knee) are targeting October and January returns respectively.
It leaves the Dragons with a young but hugely exciting Dixon-Morgan partnership, one that has only previously been fielded against the Ospreys at the Millennium Stadium last April.
The pair of talented Wales Under-20 internationals are tipped to become full internationals and it is a potent combination on paper, Dixon possessing plenty of power while rapid Morgan is elusive with ball in hand.
The latter had been a doubt for the start of the Pro12 after suffering a foot injury at the Junior World Championship but made his comeback against Lydney and then replaced Leach against the Saints.
Inside centre Dixon believes it is a partnership that can go from strength to strength.
“We’ve been training together and played most of the Northampton game,” he said.
“I enjoy playing next to Tyler; he’s a really good player, we are gelling well and I think that we can be a good combination in the future.”
Dixon may be young but the teenager from Newbridge is entering his fourth season of senior rugby and has 33 regional appearances and three Junior World Championship campaigns under his belt.
And the burgeoning pair will also be helped by the presence of Wales internationals Lee Byrne and Aled Brew in the back line following their summer arrivals from Clermont Auvergne and Biarritz.
“It’s nice to have experienced heads around you,” admitted Dixon. “I am learning every week off people like Lee and Aled and I am sure the game goes for Tyler.
“We’ve got a lot to work on and but things seem to be coming along in training and after putting the hours in on fitness and in the gym in pre-season we’re all looking forward to getting going.
“After the win against Northampton the boys are buzzing but we know that it will be a tough challenge against Connacht.”