THE Dragons are without Jamie Roberts for the New Year’s Day derby against the Scarlets in Llanelli (kick-off 5.15pm) after the powerhouse centre was forced to isolate because of coronavirus.

The 34-year-old tested positive for Covid in August but still has to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a community transmission.

That means Roberts, who has been a huge hit since signing from the Stormers last summer, will sit out the Guinness PRO14 meeting with the Scarlets.

The blow is softened by the return of Wales centre Nick Tompkins after he missed the Boxing Day derby defeat to Cardiff Blues while on compassionate leave, allowing Jack Dixon to return to his specialist position at 12.

South Wales Argus: BACK: Rhodri Williams is on the Dragons' bench to face the ScarletsBACK: Rhodri Williams is on the Dragons' bench to face the Scarlets

Scrum-half Rhodri Williams returns to face the Scarlets after suffering the same fate as Roberts last week but has to settle for a place on the bench due to a lack of preparation time.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan makes just two changes to his XV with Tompkins and Wales tighthead Leon Brown getting the nod.

The prop makes his first start since October 9. He came off the bench in autumn internationals against Georgia and Italy then was one of the Dragons’ contingent that missed out against Wasps and Bordeaux-Begles because of coronavirus/isolation.

Brown backed up Lloyd Fairbrother against the Blues but the roles are reversed in Llanelli.

The Dragons are still without fly-half Sam Davies because of a calf injury, meaning that Josh Lewis pulls the strings against his former team.

Roberts captained the Dragons for the first time last week in the absence of Williams and it will be flanker Harri Keddie that leads the bid for a first ever win at Parc y Scarlets.

Ryan was down to his last two specialist locks last week but Joe Davies has been declared fit to back up Ben Carter and Matthew Screech.

The Scarlets feature four former Dragons with Angus O'Brien, Tom Prydie and Tyler Morgan all starting with prop Phil Price on the bench.

Scarlets: A O'Brien; T Prydie, T Morgan, S Hughes (captain), S Evans; D Jones, K Hardy; W Jones, R Elias, J Sebastian, J Ball, S Lousi, B Thomson, D Davis, S Kalamafoni.

Replacements: M Jones, P Price, P Scholtz, T Ratuva, E Kennedy, G Davies, S Costelow, P Asquith.

Dragons: J Holmes; O Jenkins, N Tompkins, J Dixon, A Hewitt; J Lewis, T Knoyle; B Harris, E Dee, L Brown, B Carter, M Screech, H Keddie (captain), T Basham, A Wainwright.

Replacements: R Hibbard, A Jarvis, L Fairbrother, J Davies, H Taylor, R Williams, A Owen, E Lloyd.

Referee: Nigel Owens