ELLIOT Dee is determined to maintain the standards set by a Lion when he makes his first Wales start against Italy tomorrow, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Dragons hooker came off the bench for Ken Owens in the opening three matches of the Six Nations but finally gets to wear 2 on his back against the Azzurri at Principality Stadium.

The front rower from Newbridge, who turned 24 on Wednesday, made his Test bow as a replacement against Georgia in the autumn and made another cameo in the win against the Springboks.

After being an impact sub Dee is determined to follow the lead of his mentor Owens by starting with a bang.

"I've had a bit of a taste off the bench in the previous three games so I am looking forward to starting a game now and hopefully continuing on from the good work that Ken has done," he said.

"It's been a bit different to the way that I have been preparing to come off the bench, I will probably get more involvements in the game and more time to show up.

"But I am going to try not to change too many things and just keep doing what I have been doing.

"Ken has been playing brilliantly and hopefully I can carry on his good work."

Dee will be in a unique position in Cardiff by being one of the players who has experienced being captained by Taulupe Faletau.

The number eight from Pontypool will become the 134th man to lead Wales and the hooker, who was skippered by Faletau when the Dragons hosted the Ospreys two years ago, knows that the mild-mannered Lion will lead by example.

"Everybody has got a great amount of respect for Toby," said Dee. "He is a great leader, he maybe doesn't talk and shout like other captains but the boys respect him and will follow him.

"He is still the same Toby, a great bloke and I don't think his game will change. He has just been given a title and I think he will thrive with it.

"Knowing Toby, he won't be screaming and shouting but sometimes it means more when someone like him says something, and he leads by example."

Dee has won all three Tests he has played at home and wants to help Wales return to winning ways in style.

"We have tried to show what we can do in the opening three games, moving the ball around and playing a high-tempo game," he said.

"We need a performance and a win, and hopefully we can do it in style."