FORMER England international Luke Narraway has told his young Dragons that the Celtic Cup is a golden opportunity to show Dean Ryan that they are up to the task of Guinness PRO14 rugby.

The Rodney Parade region kick off their campaign with a trip to Galway on Friday to face Connacht Eagles (kick-off 2pm).

The Dragons have previously added a smattering of first-teamers to give the team guidance but are set to head to the Sportsground with a young team because the seniors returned on Monday for their third and final pre-season block after a week off.


who has been brought in to coach Celtic Cup team

, will still have the sizeable contingent from June's World Rugby U20 Championship (including scrum-half Daf Buckland, pictured below) at his disposal along with Wales Sevens internationals Owen Jenkins and Ben Roach, the wing and flanker who have linked up with the region for the campaign.

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And the former number eight has urged the prospects to follow the lead of the likes of Taine Basham and Jared Rosser, who are likely to be regulars for new director of rugby Ryan at senior level.

"There is a lot of talent out there and the thing that they need now is exposure at a level that will test them. That's why the Celtic Cup is so good and we can see if they can step up to the next level," said Narraway, who was on Bordeaux-Begles' coaching team last season.

"Generally young players get their opportunity through injury. These players are going to be in and around the squad and then through the attritional nature of our industry there are going to be injuries.

"Then we need to provide Dean with viable options that have proved themselves in the Celtic Cup, but if these guys put their hands up then they could also be there when he rotates his squad.

"It's really important for the guys to realise that this is their opportunity and if they do put their hands up then Dean will have more trust in them.

"This is a chance to show that they are ready, and they might even get to the point where they are outperforming first team players."

The Dragons' squad is likely to change throughout the campaign when senior players on the fringes of the first team are in need of game time.

The derby against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on Saturday, August 31 is likely to feature a number of PRO14 regulars but the Celtic Cup is predominantly for the next generation.

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"We are blessed to have a lot of very talented young men at the club. There will also be a certain amount of players training with the first team that will drop down to get minutes, so things will change week to week," said Narraway (pictured above).

"There is a lorryload of talent at the Dragons and as coaches we need to make sure we give the guys a platform to showcase what they can do to the best of their ability."

The Dragons won just one of their games in the tournament last season, when Rosser scored five tries against Connacht in Ystrad Mynach.

The Celtic Cup format has been changed this season with all the regions and Irish provinces playing each other once, either home or away, in one group before the top two clash in the final.

The Dragons host Munster a week on Friday and also entertain the Scarlets, Ulster and the Ospreys with trips to Leinster and the Blues to go along with the Connacht opener.

"I'd love to sit here and say we are going to win seven out of seven games and then go onto the final and win that, but I think this tournament is about opportunity to see the next group of stars that will push for places at the Dragons," said Narraway.

"There is the blend of the two things, we'd like good results but we want to provide a platform for players to showcase their talent, that's the ultimate goal.

"If we do so correctly, put on a good programme for them, and let them express themselves within a structure then we should get a good performance and then ultimately a result."

The Dragons name their team for the opener on Thursday.