WARREN Gatland says Wales played it safe by making an early call to not consider Dragons tighthead Leon Brown for the South Africa Test because of a concussion.

The 21-year-old from Maesglas suffered a blow to the head after coming off the bench in the closing stages of last weekend’s loss to New Zealand at Principality Stadium.

The concussion was spotted swiftly and, on the advice of national medical manager Prav Mathema, it was decided on Saturday evening not to put the promising prop through the return to play protocols, unlike scrum-half Rhys Webb who is on the bench for the Springboks after coming off against the world champions.

Brown, who featured as a replacement against Australia and the All Blacks and started against Georgia, spent Monday and Tuesday with the Wales squad in a non-training capacity before rejoining the Dragons at their Ystrad Mynach headquarters on Wednesday.

Given that the Rodney Parade region entertain Enisei-STM in the Challenge Cup next weekend, there is no rush to bring back the tighthead.

Gatland instead hands a start to Scott Andrews and a bench spot to Rhodri Jones in the absence of Exeter’s Tomas Francis and the injured Samson Lee and Brown.

“Given that this is his second concussion, we made a call on Saturday night to bring Rhodri in,” said the head coach.

“I spoke to the medics earlier in the week and we felt that given his age, and the fact this is his second knock, then it’s just not worth taking the risk.

“He needs a little bit of time to recover and recuperate and hopefully get himself right. That decision was made pretty early in the week.”

Brown misses out but there is still a three-strong Dragons contingent with Elliot Dee the beneficiary of Lions hooker Ken Owens’ back injury.

The 23-year-old from Newbridge is among the replacements, backing up Kristian Dacey, while lock Cory Hill comes in for Jake Ball and Hallam Amos retains his spot on the right wing.

Dee was rewarded for a lively start to the season with his first cap off the bench against Georgia and Gatland expects another lively cameo.

“I’m pretty excited by a couple of players for the long term that are on the bench,” said the New Zealander.

“Hopefully in the next six months we will give players like Elliot Dee and Owen Watkin more chances and they will learn from the experience of being in camp, go back and get some good regional rugby under their belts to come back better players for the next campaign.”

New Zealand-born Hadleigh Parkes, who completes his three-year residency qualification on Saturday, will make his Wales debut against the Springboks.

Scarlets scrum-half Aled Davies earns a surprise opportunity with Webb on the bench and Gareth Davies absent because of a shoulder injury.

Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau remains on starting XV duty, despite four other Aviva Premiership-based players - Owen Williams, Jamie Roberts, Rhys Priestland and Francis - returning to their clubs as the Springboks encounter falls outside World Rugby’s autumn Test window.

Playing a fourth international has stressed the Wales squad and hindered their training preparations this week but Gatland recognises it is a necessary evil.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said. “The fourth international generates a lot of money, and we have got to be aware of that.

“Part of the Union’s responsibility is helping to fund the regions, contracts for the players, the community game. We’re aware of that.”

Wales: L Halfpenny (Scarlets); H Amos (Dragons), S Williams (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), S Evans (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), A Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), C Hill (Dragons), A W Jones (Ospreys, captain), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), T Faletau (Bath).

Reps: E Dee (Dragons), W Jones (Scarlets), R Jones (Ospreys), S Davies (Cardiff Blues), D Lydiate (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys), R Patchell (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys).