DRAGONS boss Dai Flanagan has urged his young guns to take inspiration from rising Wales star Cam Winnett ahead of tonight’s tough test at Ulster.

The Rodney Parade club have headed to Belfast (kick-off 7.35pm) with a 20-strong list of absentees for the United Rugby Championship at a ground where they haven’t won since 2008.

The Dragons are without a raft of senior figures and field a makeshift back three on the artificial surface at Ravenhill.

Ewan Rosser, normally a winger, starts at full-back with Joe Westwood, a centre by trade, starting on the right wing and Corey Baldwin brought in from the cold on the left.

They are backed up by Huw Anderson, who is set for a first Dragons appearance after starting all three games for Wales in the Under-20s Six Nations.

Centre Harri Ackerman, who is captaining the Welsh youngsters in the championship, is also on the bench along with novice lock Barny Langton-Cryer.

Head coach Flanagan will be looking for the likes of Steff Hughes, Dan Lydiate and Matthew Screech to lead the way and has pointed to Wales’ new full-back as an example for the youngsters.

South Wales Argus: LIVELY: Cam Winnett in action for Wales against IrelandLIVELY: Cam Winnett in action for Wales against Ireland (Image: PA)

"It's super exciting,” he said. “Look at how Cam Winnett has taken his chance.

"I am sure there would have been a fear of putting him out there but he has taken every opportunity he has had at every level whether Cardiff RFC [in the Premiership], Cardiff Rugby or international rugby.

"We have high expectations for our youngsters, and this could be the first step of many."

The Dragons have won just twice in 19 games at Ravenhill – 16-14 in 2008 and 28-21 in 2004. They have lost their last 11 games in Belfast since a 22-22 draw in 2010.

The Rodney Parade club have not won a game outside of Wales in the URC since their triumph against Connacht in Galway in October, 2021.

They have also got a poor record on artificial surfaces and shipped six tries against Glasgow last time out after conceding nine at Cardiff on Boxing Day and seven against Munster in Cork in November.

The Dragons tuned up for Ulster’s new plastic pitch with a session against Cardiff in the capital on Tuesday.

“It was an awesome day to go down to the Arms Park and train against an opposition and make it really competitive,” said Flanagan, whose squad are low on numbers.

“It's an asset to be close [to fellow Welsh clubs], we have trained against the Ospreys and Cardiff multiple times now.

“We are seeing the next best 30 players behind the international group on the field competing against each other. That will only breed better players and better results.”

The Dragons are without fly-half/full-back Angus O’Brien after he suffered another arm injury in the loss to Glasgow.

He was making his return after the same blow in Munster last November and the injury is being assessed, although it is hoped it’s not as serious this time.

Wings Jared Rosser (concussion) and Oli Andrew (hamstring) also suffered injuries in Glasgow while Rhodri Jones, who went off for a head injury assessment, would have been fine to feature but is given a break with Rodrigo Martinez starting at loosehead.

Dragons: Ewan Rosser; Joe Westwood, Steff Hughes, Aneurin Owen, Corey Baldwin; Will Reed, Dane Blacker; Rodrigo Martinez, James Benjamin, Chris Coleman, Sean Lonsdale, Matthew Screech, Dan Lydiate, Harry Taylor, Taine Basham.

Replacements: Brodie Coghlan, Aki Seiuli, Luke Yendle, Barny Langton-Cryer, George Nott, Gonzalo Bertranou, Harri Ackerman, Huw Anderson.