DRAGONS flanker Aaron Wainwright is in line to start in Wales’ World Cup opener against Georgia.

The 21-year-old from Bassaleg has been a regular in Warren Gatland’s matchday squads since making his Test debut in Argentina last summer.

Wainwright has played in the last 11 Tests and his performances look to have earned a promotion from the bench after he backed up the trio of Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty in the Six Nations Grand Slam.

Gatland has taken six back row forwards to Japan with James Davies and Aaron Shingler also in the 31-strong squad.

Yet Wainwright – who only made his Dragons debut in October, 2017 – is in line to be in the XV in the Toyota City opener on Monday with his Rodney Parade teammate Moriarty potentially dropping down to the bench.

Free Press Series: SHOCK CALL-UP: Aaron Wainwright carries the ball for the Dragons at Newcastle in the European Challenge Cup

"Competition is very high. If I can get a starting place in the team, that would be massive for me,” he said.

"Since I started playing rugby, the biggest goal I would have aimed for would be to get selected for the World Cup.

"To be here and experience the welcome we've had, with everything that has gone on, it has been massive.

"Everything is focused on that first game against Georgia and progressing on from there. It will be a tough pool."

After being bench back-up for four of the five Grand Slam fixtures, Wainwright started in three of the World Cup warm-ups against England and Ireland.

"I am glad that Warren has selected me to start this summer and I think that my performances have showed that he can trust me," said the Dragon at the start of the month.

"I think I did well and want to carry that on now, all working towards that first game."

Gatland names his XV for the Pool D clash on Saturday (4am) with captain Alun Wyn Jones partnered by Jake Ball in the absence of Adam Beard (appendix) and Cory Hill (ankle), who are both on course to be available in the key clash with Australia a week on Saturday.

Shingler is set to provide second-row cover from the bench where he will be joined by Dragons hooker Elliot Dee, who has played in 22 of Wales’ last 24 games after establishing himself as Ken Owens’ deputy.

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Wales last met Georgia during the 2017 autumn Tests, when a much-changed team edged home 13-6 in Cardiff.

Georgia head coach Milton Haig said: "They (Wales) will be different (from 2017) because it's a World Cup and everyone wants to perform on this stage.

"But we think we've got some strengths in terms of what we had last time against them.

"In terms of our scrum, we still think that's a weapon for us against them, and our lineout went pretty well against them as well, as did our defence.

"We've taken into account those (injury) situations for Wales, but in the long run you don't win Six Nations titles without having depth in your squad."