PERSISTENCE will pay off for Thomas Young today when he lines up for Wales in Rome (kick-off 4.45pm).

The flanker will make his Six Nations debut when winning his third cap, and has got the nod from head coach Warren Gatland for the first time.

Young has knocked at the door for several seasons only for stellar displays with Wasps in the English Premiership to go unrewarded.

The 26-year-old, who was capped by Robin McBryde against Tonga and Samoa in 2017 while Gatland was on Lions duty, has been a victim of Wales' back row riches.

With Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Aaron Shingler, Ellis Jenkins and James Davies sidelined, Young received a Six Nations call-up and will join forces with blindside Aaron Wainwright and number eight Josh Navidi today.

Justin Tipuric is certain to return against England in round three, fitness permitting, so the Wasps back rower needs to take his opportunity in World Cup year.

"It' been a long time for me, but I've been focusing on club level. Everyone wants to play international rugby, but my focus had to be on Wasps and playing well," said Young.

"Wales have a lot of quality back rowers. If my focus went away from what I was doing week in, week out, then you tend to start not playing well. Obviously I'm glad to be here now.

"It is really competitive in this Wales squad, but I suppose that brings out the best in every player as every time you go out you have to make sure you are playing well.

"From my point of view I've just got to keep knocking on the door. I like to get the ball in my hands and be an attacking threat.

"This season I've worked a lot on the breakdown aspect and I may have had a bit of reward for that. I will continue to work on it."

Young has never played in the Six Nations, but he does have experience of the tournament - as a mascot for his father and former Wales skipper Dai.

The prop won 51 Wales caps between 1987 and 2001, captained his country and toured three times with the British and Irish Lions.

"I was eight or nine and my brothers Lewis and Owen and I all ran out with our little red shirts as mascots for dad's 50th cap," Young said.

"That's one I do remember, but it's one dad wants to forget as he was captain and Wales got a bit of a hammering. It was still a proud moment for us all.

"The Six Nations is probably the best competition in the world and everyone watches it. To be part of it and play in it is something I'll be very proud of.

"My parents were both happy when they found out and they started looking for flights. They get to Rome on Saturday morning.

"They are proud. It'll be a lovely occasion and it's something I'm looking forward to."

Dai is Thomas' boss at Wasps and has been instrumental in his success.

"As a coach, he was saying keep doing what you are doing and if you keep knocking on that door, hopefully it will come," said Thomas.

"We work together and then we come home and what happened in work happened in work, and we try to stay away from it.

"Some would say [he is my harshest critic] but everything he has done for me seems to be working out.

"He gave me the opportunity (at Wasps) when things weren't going well back home."