DEAN Ryan has challenged his Dragons players to show the region is not reliant on their Wales stars by avoiding a Zebre banana skin this evening.

The Guinness PRO14 clash takes place in Newport (kick-off 5.15pm) after the international match against the Barbarians at Principality Stadium (kick-off 2.45pm).

While Zebre can call on their Italy players, the Dragons are without hooker Elliot Dee, tighthead Leon Brown, back row forwards Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths and Ross Moriarty, fly-half Sam Davies and wing Ashton Hewitt.

Added to that is the absence of the injured Cory Hill, Brandon Nansen, Ryan Bevington, Jordan Williams, Lewis Evans and Josh Lewis.

The missing list adds to the jeopardy against a Zebre side who haven't won in any competition in 2019, but Ryan only sees the opportunity.

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"To have eight players away with Wales is where we want to be, so to make that more consistent we have to step up behind that group," said the director of rugby, who is able to call on flanker Taine Basham after his week with the Test squad.

"It creates opportunities and opportunities that players have to kick on from, not just playing a couple of games while so-and-so was away otherwise we become really reliant on that eight, which is where we have probably been in the past."

Ryan makes eight changes to the side that overpowered Enisei-STM in the second half of last week's 49-22 European Challenge Cup win in Russia, adding experience in the shape of front rowers Brok Harris and Richard Hibbard and centres Jack Dixon and Adam Warren.

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"What we talked about going to Enisei was that we have to behave differently over these next two or three weeks, because it's fantastic to see so many Dragons names involved with Wales but now the group that's here need to step up behind them," said Ryan.

"We need to change the trajectory that we are normally on when we've got that group away, if we don't then we are just on a yoyo string of waiting for them to come back when they are away and then them coming back. That's not where we want to be.

"I see it as a fantastic opportunity as a club as a whole and for many individuals to see how we cope and grow when more experienced players are away."

The Dragons are hunting a hat-trick of Rodney Parade wins after beating PRO14 title contenders Glasgow and 2018 French champions Castres.

They hammered Zebre 52-28 in Parma when the Italians were without their sizeable World Cup contingent in October.

A Dragons win would secure a first league double since Leinster in 2015.