DEAN Ryan says that places are up for grabs as the Dragons count down to their European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bristol.

The director of rugby hasn’t gone fully-loaded for the return of the Guinness PRO14 at the Ospreys (click HERE for the full team news).

Here are a selection of players who will be especially keen to prove a point before Ryan rotates his team for the Scarlets…


The absence of former Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts gives Dixon the chance to shine at 12.

The 25-year-old from Newbridge is a similar style to Roberts and should have no shortage of motivation in Swansea.

With Adam Warren on the bench, Dixon will look to shine against home prospect Kieran Williams.

There is much to admire about his defensive work and ball carrying but this is a hugely important season for a centre who looked sure to play Test rugby when he made Wales' training squad for the 2015 World Cup.

Dixon's been around for ages yet his best years are still ahead of him and fingers crossed he can push on.

South Wales Argus:


Not many would have expected the 21-year-old to be in the 6 jersey given the Dragons' back row riches.

The abrasive blindside has impressed the management in training and will be keen to enjoy a breakthrough season, aided by the hectic Test schedule that will deprive Ryan of Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright and possibly Taine Basham and Ollie Griffiths.

Fry will look at his former Wales Under-20s teammate Basham's 2019/20 and know that strong performances earn more opportunities and chances to develop.

Expect the bright prospect to eagerly fly into some illustrious Ospreys opponents.

South Wales Argus:


The coronavirus pandemic struck just as Howells had recovered from a serious elbow injury suffered in November.

The speedster was relieved to get a one-year contract extension and knows he has to string games together, because his ability has never been in question.

There's plenty of competition in the back three now with Jordan Williams on the comeback trail and Jonah Holmes likely to make a debut against the Scarlets, while Jared Rosser and Rio Dyer miss out this weekend.

Howells is at 15 rather than the wing and can't waste this chance.

South Wales Argus:


The Ringo of the Dragons' summer signings? A tad harsh but Maksymiw doesn't quite have the clout of Nick Tompkins, Jonah Holmes and Jamie Roberts.

However, the Welsh-qualified lock has a big chance to establish himself in the side after his move from Connacht.

The lock from Leicester is 6ft 8ins and has the target of breaking up the partnership of Matthew Screech, who has had a super 2019/20, and workhorse Joe Davies.

Maksymiw prides himself on his set piece work and won't get a better chance to make a statement than tussling with Adam Beard and Alun Wyn Jones.