DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan is frustrated that the focus is all on Wales in derby week but he still expects a full-blooded clash in Cardiff.

One of the most-anticipated fixtures of the season has been devalued by the absence of 16 Test stars because of next weekend's international against New Zealand.

The Dragons travel to the Arms Park on Saturday without six forwards while Cardiff have 10 missing for the United Rugby Championship encounter.

The Wales contingent are preparing for the All Blacks game, which is outside World Rugby's official window and is needed to provide a financial boost.

There is disappointment that an east Wales derby, a fixture that raises the profile of the sport, has been scheduled for a weekend in October rather than its normal Boxing Day slot.

However, the URC schedule is jam-packed and director of rugby Ryan is, publicly at least, accepts the situation.

South Wales Argus: ABSENT: Aaron Wainwright is one of six Dragons players on Wales dutyABSENT: Aaron Wainwright is one of six Dragons players on Wales duty

"The structure of the season means that there is a Wales focus now leading into the internationals. That's the reality," said director of rugby Ryan.

"It's frustrating but I am not here to talk about the organisation and infrastructure that has led to it.

"The South African sides have had to deal with it in the first three or four weeks [because of the Rugby Championship], so it's the nature of the competition and now it's our turn.

"We just see it as providing opportunities [for other players]. For us to all start firing off the hip at something we've all known about for a significant amount of time wouldn't be productive.

"The focus is now firmly on Wales, hence the international players need their preparation. For us the focus is on a derby and opportunities."

Punters will not get to see the likes of Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright, Will Rowlands and Elliot Dee fly into Uilisi Halaholo, Ellis Jenkins, Dillon Lewis and Josh Adams.

Nonetheless, Ryan believes they will still be treated to a typically confrontational clash between close rivals.

South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dean RyanDragons boss Dean Ryan

"I don't think it's cheapened for anybody. There will be drama, physicality, emotion, expectation," he said.

"It just might create more drama and I wouldn't try and detract from what a derby is.

"It's never really about the quality of players, otherwise we'd all be able to rise above derbies, and we all know that's quite difficult."

Ryan has picked a settled side so far this season and he has urged those that come in for the Wales six to not waste their chance.

"The areas that we have got people away in are very strong areas," he said. "Opportunities for those that sit on the fringes have been small.

"These are windows where you can shift the pecking order, a chance to put a marker down for the future and get into a really competitive area of our team.

"I am looking forward to how people respond and perform. There isn't a huge window of opportunity when people are fit and this is one, and it's in a derby game."