Dragons star Aaron Wainwright hunts Wales recall
He is known for making clean breaks, but Aaron Wainwright wants to make things complicated for the Dragons to regain his place in Wales.
The 24-year-old will be a key figure at Rodney Parade this afternoon in the bid for a derby double against the Scarlets.
Wainwright has piled on a lot in five campaigns as a professional following his rapid rise since making his debut in 2017, but this season has been a trying one.
The back rower has picked up just two wins in Dragons colors as he went from a Wales regular in the fall to an absentee at the end of the Six Nations.
It’s worth remembering that Wainwright only made 110 senior appearances – 73 Dragons, 36 caps and a clash against the Barbarians – and developed his game on big stages.
Wainwright is looking for a solid run-in for the Dragons to meet the targets set by national boss Wayne Pivac during a post-Six Nations debriefing.
“The main feedback for me was my defensive work, I think they were pretty happy with what I can do on offense,” Wainwright said.
“The main thing they came back with was continuing to work on my defensive stuff, continuing to be physical, trying to be a nuisance and causing damage.
“That’s what I tried to work on here at the Dragons and hopefully I can continue to prove that I’m improving in those areas towards the end of the season.”
It should also be noted that the back row striker has only recently become a specialist back row striker at number eight.
Club and country want to run him into space and Wainwright took a dashing 40-yard break which should have led to a try against Gloucester, then repeated the trick at Parc y Scarlets to set up a score for Taine Basham .
The current Dragons man looks to a Dragons legend for inspiration – Taulupe Faletau, the current Wales 8-starter.
“If I watch a game he’s playing, I’ll watch it and see what he does, to see if I can find any tips or little things he does that make him stand out,” Wainwright said. .
“It’s great to have him with me when I’m at camp as well and talk to him and bounce things off him and learn.
“He’s obviously such an experienced player to have the chance to do that, it’s obviously going to benefit me in my game as well.”
Wainwright’s hopes of facing the Springboks this summer will be boosted by a whirlwind arrival at the URC with the Dragons, who host the Scarlets ahead of fixtures against Zebre, the Ospreys, Cardiff and the Lions.
Tempers are high after Llanelli’s upset but Dean Ryan’s men are still the underdogs against play-off contenders.
“We have to do the same thing again and carry on like we played last week,” Wainwright said.
“It’s going to be a bigger challenge with them coming to us following a loss. It’s about focusing on what we did well and the things we need to work on.
“It would be nice to get a win in front of the home crowd. It’s a big game to try and get the double against the Scarlets.
“If we can keep moving forward now and pick up a few more wins, that will give the fans something to celebrate and end the season with a bang.”