SHAUN Connor expects Newport Gwent Dragons to rise to the occasion at a packed Principality Stadium as they attempt to upset the odds against a star-studded Scarlets side.
The Dragons are huge underdogs for the second part of the Guinness PRO12 double-header, the game kicking off at 5.15pm after Cardiff Blues lock horns with the Ospreys at 2.45pm.
Kingsley Jones’ side are in 10th and on a nine-game losing streak and go up against a fourth-placed Scarlets side who are eyeing the play-offs thanks to a red-hot run of form in the league.
The Dragons have lost all four previous Judgement Day encounters while the west Walians feature nine players who featured in the Six Nations – including Lions hopefuls Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams and Ken Owens – but backs coach Connor has told his players it is a chance to shine.
“If a venue and occasion like this doesn’t inspire the boys then they are in the wrong profession,” said the former fly-half.
“This is a Welsh trial and I am sure all our players have aspirations to play for Wales so they need to put a performance in to put their name in the mix.
“Our form is not good but this is a new challenge and the experience of Principality Stadium will be massive for our players and some of them will want to put their hands up for selection on the Wales summer tour.
“There are a lot of key battles all over the field and the Scarlets are the form team in Wales with 14 wins from their last 16 (in the PRO12).
“Nobody expects us to get a result apart from those of us in the camp. If we get large parts of our performance right we will give a good account of ourselves.”
The Dragons have named 21 Welsh-qualified players in their 23-strong matchday squad plus South Africans Carl Meyer and Brok Harris, who will soon be eligible on residency terms.
South Africans Rynard Landman and Pat Howard and New Zealander Nick Crosswell don’t feature after starting in last week’s 29-14 loss at Zebre but Connor insists nationality didn’t play a part in their selection for the clash at the home of Welsh rugby.
“There had to be a reaction to the loss in Zebre,” he said. “When you don’t play well then you can’t expect to play the next week. If we had beaten Zebre then it would have been hard to make changes.”