Boss Dean Ryan has vowed his Dragons will ‘throw everything at it’ when they face Bristol Bears in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup at Ashton Gate Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Ryan has declared he is selecting from a near full-strength squad and is ready to ‘roll the dice’ over a number of players to ensure the team that runs out is the very best he can pick.
And he wants his players to now embrace the challenge ahead and enjoy it as they prepare to face a Bristol team flying high in the English Premiership.
“We’re happy that we are selecting from full strength,” said the Director of Dragons Rugby.
“We might be gambling on some, given the lack of rugby, but we have got some players that we think can do some different things.
“I don’t want to be wondering on Saturday morning about what I might have done. I’d rather go into a knockout game and give it a good go.
“We’re happy with our preparation and everybody is in the mix,” he added.
“The decision we have to make is about the amount of rugby they have played versus what we think their experiences might add.
“We’ve been open with the squad. The opportunity to give everyone games in that first window was really important, but now it is about Friday night and we have got to get everyone behind it.
“I’ve been clear with the players. I’ve seen performances in the last two games that has seen players at their best and I don’t want this one-off selection to derail their progress.
“But there is no point seeing Friday night as another step in our development. It is a knockout game and we’ve got to throw everything at it.
“Definitely there is some rolling of the dice by myself when we look at selection. We want to give it a go and I don’t want any what ifs over the weekend. “We’ll give it a good crack and we will live with the outcomes.”
Bristol have stormed into the last eight of Europe this season and boast a power-packed squad full of internationals after a radical rebuild in recent times.
But Ryan insists that only adds to the story on Friday evening in Bristol.
“We have the narrative about where Bristol is and where they have come from, the resources they have now,” he said.
“Our own narrative in that we are very early in that stage. It is certainly a good story line.
“We absolutely need to play at this level, to learn more with Champions Cup coming. We can’t hide from it and keep talking about depth. This game is about the here and now.
“We’re really looking forward to playing against Bristol. We have some big game players and they are excited about testing themselves.”
I don’t want to be wondering on Saturday morning about what I might have done. I’d rather go into a knockout game and give it a good go...