DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan is ready to 'roll the dice' by flinging in big-game players Jamie Roberts and Jonah Holmes in their European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bristol despite a lack of match action.

The Rodney Parade region head to Ashton Gate on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm) looking to upset the odds in the last eight of Europe.

After giving opportunities in the Guinness PRO14 derbies against the Ospreys and Scarlets, director of rugby Ryan will go fully-loaded in the West Country.

That is likely to lead to debuts for Wales full-back/wing Jonah Holmes (pictured below) and Lions centre Jamie Roberts.

South Wales Argus:
Six Nations star Nick Tompkins impressed in the derby clashes, the on-loan Saracen playing 13 against the Ospreys and 12 against the Scarlets, while lock Joe Maksymiw also featured twice after his summer move from Connacht.

Prop Greg Bateman is another option for Bristol but, with Brok Harris fit after a hamstring strain, might not be risked given that he only signed following the conclusion of the PRO14 after leaving Leicester because of a contract dispute.

However, all the big guns will take to the field against the Bears with boss Ryan pledging to have no regrets.

“We took a decision quite early that it was probably better off trying to ensure that we got the right XV onto the field,” said the director of rugby. “I am happy that we are selecting from full strength.

“We might be gambling on some given their lack of rugby but we also have some players who can do some different things.

“I don't want to be caught wondering on Saturday morning about what I might have done, I'd rather go into a knockout game and give it a good go.

"The decision that is to be taken is the amount of rugby people have played versus what we think their experiences might add.

"That's a challenging situation because I'd normally like to spend four or five games (with players).

"For a game like this I have to be aware of selecting some people on reputation just because we don't have six or seven weeks behind us.

“We have got some big game players and they are really excited about testing themselves.”

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons qualified for the knockout stages after pipping Worcester to the runners-up spot behind Castres.

They now attempt to upset the odds against a Bears side hunting the double, with Pat Lam’s men set to resume their push for the play-offs after the Euro quarter and then potentially semi.

Ryan is ready for some tough conversations after opting to go with new boys ahead of those that got the region to the last eight.

“Selection is always hard and no easier when you have to do it for reasons that don't necessarily stack up,” said Ryan.

“Being transparent is always the key. I saw some performances in those two (derby) games from people at their best.

“I don't want this one-off selection to derail their progress, because their improvement has been significant over lockdown.

“But at the same time we have to got to do the best to get something out of Friday night. There is no point seeing it as another step on the development, it's a knockout game and we have to throw everything at it.

“There is definitely some rolling of the dice from me in selection but I have tried to be transparent so that people understand that their development is key.

“I don't want to be sat reflecting on Saturday and Sunday with what-ifs in my mind, I'd rather be wrong.”

The teams for the Ashton Gate clash are named at midday on Thursday.