DEAN Ryan has called on his Dragons to be more robust as the director of rugby prepares for a first outing in the Rodney Parade rain.

The Dragons entertain Connacht in the Guinness PRO14 this evening (kick-off 7.35pm) after an expected day of rain that has prompted a Met Office yellow weather warning.

The region started the season with a 39-9 loss to Munster when overpowered up front at a sodden Thomond Park but responded by hammering Zebre 52-28 in dry conditions in Parma to end a four-and-a-half year league drought on the road.

The Dragons have made no secret of their desire to play high-tempo rugby this season, thus avoiding an arm-wrestle against teams with more grunt up front.

However, they also need to play smart in testing conditions with the boss demanding a big shift from his pack.

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"Weather will dictate the game and I think it is supposed to be raining, so we've got to be a bit more robust," said former England forward Ryan.

"We learnt that from Munster, we have to stay in the contest in some areas that aren't necessary the areas we are keen on and we've got to make it more difficult for sides.

"We did that at Zebre but it was dry and sunny to give us our running game. We've got to be a little bit more robust contesting for ball in certain areas than we have been in the past."

Ryan was appointed as Bernard Jackman's successor this summer and enjoyed victory over the Scarlets in a pre-season friendly in Newport.

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Tonight is his competitive Rodney Parade bow and the new boss wants to earn the loud backing of the Dragons faithful.

"We've got a responsibility to show them what we are trying to do and a responsibility to throw everything we've got into games at home," he said.

"I hope they enjoy coming to watch us, from there it becomes contagious. We will give it a good go and I've heard good things about what Friday night crowds are like at Rodney Parade, so I'm excited about being at home."

The Dragons head into the game in high spirits after thrashing Zebre to end their away hoodoo but Connacht were also impressive winners against Italian opposition, dismantling Benetton 41-5.

The Irish province are without Ireland internationals Bundee Aki and Jack Carty but Ryan believes it's the visitors' team spirit that makes them formidable opposition.

"Connacht's collective is their main threat," he said. "They are a side that won a PRO14 title on that collective.

"They've got some very talented players, but I don't think anyone saw that title (in 2016) coming, so that is credit to the environment they have created.

"It is something we are working hard to replicate and we know it will be a big test of where we are tonight."