AFTER twice being left waiting on the touchline in Tests, Aaron Wainwright will feel relief along with pride when he pulls on the 6 jersey for the first time with Wales tomorrow afternoon.

The 21-year-old from Bassaleg will add to the cap that he won off the bench against Argentina in June when he locks horns with Tonga at Principality Stadium.

Past experiences would have added to the Dragons flanker's nerves ahead of the team announcement; he has been named in three matchday squads but enjoyed a solitary outing.

In June he removed his tracksuit to make his Test bow in the closing stages against the Springboks in Washington only for the ball to stay in play and time to expire.

History repeated at the start of this month when Dragons teammate Elliot Dee was sin-binned in the final quarter, meaning that plans to introduce Wainwright were shelved until the final minute when once again the clock went red.

The flanker isn't one for wallowing and insists the autumn opener can only help him impress against the Tongans.

"The experience of going to the Scotland game – the bus through the fans on the streets in Cardiff, the warm-up and a packed stadium – was really good," said Wainwright.

"Unfortunately I didn't get on, which was a little bit gutting, but it helped to make me train harder to get back into the team.

"I had a couple of words with Elliot after! I'm joking, it was a bit of a harsh decision but that is rugby. Luckily my dad didn't have to go all the way to America to watch me not get on this time!"

Wainwright has enjoyed a rapid rise after only making his professional debut at Cardiff Blues in October, 2017.

He has gone on to become a mainstay of the Dragons pack and has impressed the Wales management with his energy and work rate in training.

Warren Gatland's wealth of back row options means that Wainwright is an outsider for the World Cup but he is desperate to add to his boss' selection headache by shining against the powerful Tongans.

"First of all I just want to play well this weekend," he said. "There are a lot of people to come back from injury and to come back into the team but the main thing is to just keep working hard.

"If I can add little things to my game and impress then that will put me in good stead for next year.

"My main goal is to work towards that World Cup and the only way that I can do that is by playing well and training hard. If I keep doing the right things then hopefully I can make it."

Wainwright has had to learn quickly since bursting onto the scene and that has continued this autumn with a raft of Lions returning to Wales duty to drive standards up.

"It's been a quick journey. I am just trying to take everything as it comes, work hard and hopefully keep achieving things," said Wainwright, who only took up rugby as a 17-year-old at Whiteheads RFC.

"When surrounded by players of this calibre in camp, players with that extra bit about them, it can only help my game."

And he has been looking to one of his Dragons predecessors for inspiration after watching Dan Lydiate impress on his return to the Test arena against the Scots and Wallabies.

"Dan has had two really good games and is someone to look up to," said Wainwright. "He has helped me in training by giving me tips and little details to work on.

"That has been really nice, adding extra things to my game because he is really good in defence with his work off the scrum and around the park."

The chop-tackling specialist's advice should certainly be handy against a Tongan side that won't lack size.

"They have a big pack but I just have to stick to my job and do what I have been doing for the Dragons," he said.

"We know that we will have to front up and be physical but there are areas where we will be better than them and hopefully we can exploit their weaknesses."

Wales: J Holmes (Leicester); L Williams (Saracens), T Morgan (Dragons), O Watkin (Ospreys), S Evans (Scarlets); D Biggar (Northampton), T Williams (Cardiff Blues); W Jones (Scarlets), E Dee (Dragons), L Brown (Dragons), J Ball (Scarlets), A Beard (Ospreys), A Wainwright (Dragons), E Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, captain), S Davies (Cardiff Blues).

Replacements: R Elias (Scarlets), R Evans (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), C Hill (Dragons), R Moriarty (Gloucester), A Davies (Ospreys), R Patchell (Scarlets), J Adams (Worcester).