WALES sevens international Ben Roach will captain a young Dragons XV in their Celtic Cup opener against Connacht.

The Rodney Parade region start their campaign at the Sportsground in Galway (kick-off 2pm) tomorrow with 18 of the matchday squad aged 21 or under.

Roach captains the team from number eight on his return to Dragons colours after featuring nine times for the region’s seniors in 2017/18 because of a back-row injury crisis.

The 25-year-old from Cardiff (pictured below) and fellow Wales speedster Owen Jenkins are with the Dragons for the Celtic Cup campaign ahead of their return to the World Rugby Sevens Series in Olympic year.

Jenkins, 26, was Wales' leading try scorer last season and the former Cardiff Blues man starts at full-back.

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The duo provide some welcome experience in a side that also features summer signing Jack Cosgrove, the 25-year-old former Worcester loosehead who will be hoping to put pressure on first-teamers Ryan Bevington and Brok Harris.

Connor Edwards, who suffered an injury-plagued 2018/19, starts at outside centre in his bid to secure a return to Guinness PRO14 action while lock Max Williams (pictured below) and blindside Lennon Greggains are other young talents aiming to climb Dean Ryan’s pecking order.

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Ireland Under-20s international James McCarthy, who returned to the Dragons from the Munster academy this summer, starts on the left wing.

The Dragons' matchday 23 features six prospects that played for Wales at this summer's World Rugby U20 Championship with wing Rio Dyer, centre Aneurin Owen, scrum-half Dafydd Buckland, lock Ed Scragg and flanker Greggains starting while hooker Will Griffiths is on the bench.

The Dragons sole win in last year's tournament came against Connacht when wing Jared Rosser scored five tries in a 53-38 victory in Ystrad Mynach.

Former England number eight Luke Narraway has been brought in to coach the Celtic Cup team and he admits they are venturing into the unknown in round one.

He said: "The only thing I know about Connacht is that the wind comes down the pitch and it could well be raining!

"The beauty about this competition is that most teams are concentrating on what they can deliver opposed to doing 10 hours of analysis and trying to stop what the opposition is strong at.

"That's especially the case for the first game and everybody starts with a clean slate. We are concentrating on controlling what we can control.

"We want to produce something on the pitch that replicates what we have been doing in training. We want to get that transfer, which should lead to a good performance."

The former England number eight is able to name a promising back row featuring Greggains and Ben Fry either side of Roach.

"The Dragons are not short of options in the back row, both in the Celtic Cup and first team. There is a massive depth chart right down to 18 years old," said Narraway.

"The back three is the same, there are a lot of elusive, jinky runners, while Evan Lloyd has showed that he has got a good head on his shoulders in training with the ability to lead a team around the field.

"Aneurin Owen has a really classy touch and a lot of people are excited about him. I could go on and it just backs up my first impressions that there is a lorryload of talent here.

"As coaches we need to make sure we give these guys a platform to showcase what they have to the best of their ability."

The Dragons host Munster A at Rodney Parade next Friday and also welcome the Scarlets to Newport with the venues for the home fixtures against Ulster and the Ospreys still to be confirmed.

Dragons XV: O Jenkins, R Dyer, C Edwards, A Owen, J McCarthy, E Lloyd, D Buckland, J Cosgrove, E Shipp, L Yendle, E Scragg, M Williams, L Greggains, B Fry, B Roach (captain). Replacements: W Griffiths, J Reynolds, H Hibbs, M Ayling, B Hoppe, D Babos, J Botica, J Goodchild.