Pro14: Dragons v Benetton (Sat)
|Pro14: Dragons v Benetton|
|Venue: Rodney Parade Date: Saturday, 1 September Kick-off: 19:35 BST|
|Coverage: Updates on the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio Wales|
Dragons will be without new signing Ross Moriarty for Saturday’s Pro14 opener at home to Benetton.
The British and Irish Lions back-row is serving a ban after being sent off in Wales’ 30-12 win in Argentina in June.
But former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard will make his competitive debut for his new side.
Fly-half Gavin Henson starts after passing a late fitness test to partner Rhodri Williams, while scrum-half Tavis Knoyle is also fit for bench duty.
Aaron Jarvis, Harrison Keddie, Ashton Hewitt and Jared Rosser all miss the opening league game of the season through injury.
Along with Hibbard, Dragons give competitive debuts to Ryan Bevington, Brandon Nansen, Rhodri Williams, Dafydd Howells, Jordan Williams, with fellow new recruits Huw Taylor and Josh Lewis also set to feature off the bench.
“Everyone is excited about the opening day and we want to hit the ground running with a new-look team,” said Dragons coach Bernard Jackman.
“We have a quality side out, but we know that Benetton are flying high on the back of a successful season last year.
“They were very impressive in pre-season against Leicester, Worcester and Zebre and they won away from home, which Italian teams have failed to do in recent seasons.
“We’re under no illusions that it is going to be a tough game. They are very physical, very big up front so we need to deal with that. But we also need to impose our style of play that I am confident we will.”
Dragons: Jordan Williams; Dafydd Howells, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos; Gavin Henson, Rhodri Williams; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Leon Brown, Cory Hill (capt), Brandon Nansen, Lewis Evans, Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Brok Harris, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Huw Taylor, Tavis Knoyle, Josh Lewis, Adam Warren.
Benetton: Jayden Hayward; Ratuva Tavuyara, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi, Monty Ioane; Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi; Federico Zani, Hame Faiva, Tiziano Pasquali, Alessandro Zanni, Dean Budd (capt), Abraham Steyn, Sebastian Negri, Marco Barbini.
Replacements: Engjel Makelara, Derrick Appiah, Simone Ferrari, Marco Fuser, Federico Ruzza, Marco Lazzaroni, Giorgio Bronzini, Tommaso Iannone.
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Simon Rees (WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
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