Dragons v Zebre: Teams
At Rodney Parade, Friday August 31, kick-off 7.00pm (BST)
Last Updated: 30/08/12 4:18pm
Tom Prydie: makes his first start for the Dragons
Hooker Steve Jones will lead Newport Gwent Dragons when they launch their RaboDirect Pro12 campaign against newcomers Zebre on Friday.
Captain James Harris misses the Dragons' opening match of the season at Rodney Parade with a calf problem.
New signings Dan Evans, Tom Prydie and Ian Nimmo all start, with Jevon Groves joining Grand Slam duo Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau in the back-row.
Their Italian opponents have replaced Aironi in the league and Dragons head coach Darren Edwards admitted he will be taking his side into uncharted territory on Friday.
"Playing the unknown does cause problems," he said. "But it also enables us to focus on ourselves and our own game
"It's what we've done through this pre-season - especially leading into the London Irish game - we didn't know how they would play but we focussed on our own game and produced a strong performance and a great result.
"Zebre is a team with more internationals than the Dragons and a great deal of experience in the side.
"They have a very good support structure around them and are heavily supported by the Italian Federation so they are definitely a stronger side than many would give them credit for."
Christian Gajan, technical director of the Parma based outfit has named his team for the Italian clubs maiden appearance in the league .
Gajan has given a first start in the competition for Italian winger Samuele Pace, flanker Filippo Cristiano, lock Emiliano Caffini, prop David Ryan and number eight Andries Van Schalkwyk.
Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Steffan Jones, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Jevon Groves, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Andrew Coombes, 4 Ian Nimmo, 3 Dan Way, 2 Steve Jones (c), 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Tom Brown, 21 J Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Ashley Smith.
Zebre: 15 Sinoti Sinoti, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gonzalo Garcia (c), 11 Samuele Pace, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Emiliano Caffini, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 David Ryan, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea De Marchie, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Alberto Chiesa, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.