PROP Lloyd Fairbrother says the absence of Wales internationals is an excuse the Dragons don't intend using on Saturday evening.

The tighthead will start the Guinness PRO14 clash against Zebre at Rodney Parade (kick-off 5.15pm) while Leon Brown is among the region's five players featuring in the international friendly against the Barbarians at Principality Stadium (kick-off 2.45pm).

Director of rugby Dean Ryan is without Brown, back row forwards Aaron Wainwright and Ollie Griffiths, hooker Elliot Dee and fly-half Sam Davies, along with wing Ashton Hewitt, who will be travelling reserve in the capital.

However, the boss is keen to stress the positive of the absentees providing opportunities for others, with that certainly being the case in the 3 jersey.

Fairbrother has played in every game of the season but after backing up Brown made his first start in last weekend's European Challenge Cup win against Enisei-STM in Krasnodar.

The 28-year-old knows that he cannot let the standards set by the six-times capped Wales international slip.

South Wales Argus:

"We are aware that we will be missing a few players due to the international game, but it's a big chance for some of the young boys and senior players to really make an impression," said the Welsh-qualified Cornishman.

"People are already saying we are missing the internationals, the excuse is all ready there for us. But I'm not interested in that, we need to turn up and show what we are about."

Fairbrother came off the bench for the final seven minutes in Parma when the Dragons ended their embarrassing four-year league away drought in October.

They did it in style when running seven tries past their hosts in a 52-28 demolition but expect a sterner test on Welsh soil.

"Zebre will be a different animal now. They have shown in recent games that they are an improving side and I'm sure all the Italian internationals will be back in," said Fairbrother.

"You know what you are going to get from the Italians, they will be big up front and they will look to scrum, maul and be physical.

"These games are always an arm wrestle and they will be in your face. I imagine they will be fired up after what happened in Parma.

"It's a massive challenge and one I am sure we will step up to. We have to turn up, focus on getting our own game right and produce.

"It's important to be strong on home soil and keep building ahead of the derby games."

South Wales Argus:

Fairbrother was to the fore in last week's 49-22 win in Russia when the Dragons bossed the second half after being level at the break.

"I'm not sure I would say I enjoyed Russia! It was a long few flights and a long few bus journeys, but it was job done and a professional display," he said.

"We had all the reasons in the world to not turn up and perform, but we put that to one side and it was a top performance with a young outfit."

The Dragons are hunting a hat-trick of wins in Newport after upsetting title contenders Glasgow and downing 2018 French champions Castres in their Euro opener.

"It's a step up this weekend as we go back into the PRO14, but we can show what we are about at home and show what we have been building the last few weeks in Europe," said Fairbrother.

"We owe so much to the Rodney Parade fans. They turn up week after week and deserve some success. Keeping them happy and winning is our only priority.

"To get three wins on the spin at home would be awesome. If we perform I'm confident we can achieve it."

The Dragons name their team at midday with Will Talbot-Davies set to start at full-back after Jordan Williams ruptured knee ligaments.