THE Dragons have been told they are still under the microscope despite swapping the pressure of the Guinness PRO14 and European Challenge Cup for the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Bernard Jackman has rung the changes for the development competition clash with Saracens after last week’s impressive 33-17 win against Bordeaux-Begles.

The head coach has also given his first team assistants Hendre Marnitz, Ceri Jones and Shaun Connor a breather this week, but the heat is still on those that head east to Allianz Park (kick-off 3pm).

The Dragons face Sarries today and then Worcester in Newport on Friday before returning to the PRO14 for a home encounter with Glasgow on Friday, February 9.

Academy boss Chapron, who is looking after defence with Rhys Thomas in charge of the forwards in addition to his commitments as breakdown coach and skills coach Barry Maddocks in charge of the backs, says Jackman has the same high standards.

“It’s an opportunity for boys to hold their hands up for the PRO14,” said Chapron.

“Bernard was still leading the team meetings and has been on the training field. He has cast his eye over everything, player performance and coaching performance.

“Everyone is under pressure to perform and that’s what we need. If we put a performance in there then it’s good for players’ careers.

“Bernard wants people to work hard and make the region proud, so this squad has to do that. If we can cause an upset then it puts the players in a better position moving forward.”

The Dragons lost 41-7 at Northampton in their first fixture of this season’s tournament but arguably have more experience in their ranks than Sarries.

Former Springbok Zane Kirchner will make his return from injury in the unfamiliar position of fly-half after being out of action since suffering a dislocated shoulder in September.

The 33-year-old played fly-half when he attended PW Botha College in George but his pro career has predominantly been spent at full-back with occasional appearances on the wing or midfield.

Gavin Henson is rested, Arwel Robson is injured and Kirchner is selected ahead of Angus O’Brien and Dorian Jones.

Harrison Keddie also makes his return from four months out in a strange position, captaining the side from openside rather than his usual blindside or No. 8.

Sam Beard is back at 13 after being ineligible for Europe and partners Connor Edwards in midfield.

Speedster Rio Dyer makes his debut on the left wing before heading off for Wales duty at the Under-20s Six Nations along with Dan Babos and Max Williams, who start at scrum-half and lock.

“A lot of our first team players started out in this tournament,” said Chapron. “This is where they learn what it takes at the top level.

“They need this experience because as good as age-grade can be, it doesn’t prepare them for the shock of professional rugby.

“The physicality is similar at certain levels but it’s just the speed everything happens at. It’s a great competition to expose our younger boys and new players to that.”

Wing Pat Howard, hooker Liam Belcher and tighthead Nicky Thomas also come into the XV while lock Henri Williams and scrum-half Callum Morris could make Dragons debuts from the bench.

Calvin Wellington, who signed from rugby league giants St Helens last autumn, is also set for a bow after being named as a replacement.

The conversion of Gerard Ellis into a loosehead prop will continue with the hooker named as Sam Hobbs’ back-up.

European Champions Cup quarter-finalists Saracens feature Wales lock Dominic Day in a youthful side.

Saracens: M Gallagher, O Morris, N Tompkins, R Bird-Tulloch, R Segun, M Malins, T Whiteley, H Thompson, S Spurling, K Longbottom, D Day, M Flanagan, J Nay, B Earl (captain), S Vailanu. Replacements: T McElroy, T Lamositele, J Figallo, D Cutmore, S Reffell, N Stirzaker, D Morris, A Gliksten.

Dragons: C Meyer, P Howard, S Beard, C Edwards, R Dyer, Z Kirchner, D Babos, S Hobbs, L Belcher, N Thomas, M Williams, R Landman, J Sheekey, H Keddie (captain), R Blake. Reps: E Shipp, G Ellis, L Fairbrother, H Williams, A Wainwright, C Morris, J Sage, C Wellington.

Referee: Simon Harding