DRAGONS flanker Taine Basham has been challenged to back up his autumn exploits for Wales in tournament rugby after the loss of Justin Tipuric for the Six Nations.

Basham announced himself on the Test stage last year when he grasped an opportunity presented by a back row injury crisis.

Wales were without the likes of Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi, Ross Moriarty, Dan Lydiate and James Botham but the Dragons prospect rose to the occasion.

The 21-year-old from Talywain played every minute against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia and was picked by former Lions captain and flanker Sam Warburton as his Wales star of the campaign.

READ MORE: Moriarty set for Dragons return ahead of Six Nations

Basham is now set to feature in the back row against Ireland in Dublin, although he still has to fight to show that he should be a starter and now an impact sub.

Head coach Wayne Pivac sang the praises of the Dragons man in the autumn but has urged him to keep rising in the absence of Tipuric, who has failed in his bid to make a Six Nations return.

South Wales Argus: Taine Basham on the charge for Wales against New ZealandTaine Basham on the charge for Wales against New Zealand

“It’s a challenge for young guys to get thrown in, it’s a baptism of fire to a degree but the great players always step up when given those opportunities,” said Pivac.

“Taine has a wee way to go before we call him a great player but he is certainly a very good player and the challenge is to back up the performances of a few months ago.

“It’s a big challenge for players the second time around. For Taine it’s his first time in this tournament and there are different pressures to an autumn series.

“It’s a tournament and discipline goes a long way to getting success in the Six Nations. We were very good with our discipline in the last campaign and it needs to be the same again.

“Taine is somebody who is learning all the time in that area and it’s around good decision-making.”

Basham is joined in the squad by Dragons teammates Aaron Wainwright and Moriarty, who is on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery.

Ellis Jenkins, Seb Davies and the uncapped duo of Jac Morgan and James Ratti complete the back row options.

South Wales Argus: PHYSICAL: Ross Moriarty is back from injuryPHYSICAL: Ross Moriarty is back from injury

Basham’s autumn exploits mean he is likely to start at the Aviva Stadium but the physicality of Moriarty, who is set for game time for the Dragons against Benetton a week on Friday, means it wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets the nod at blindside.

That would leave Basham, Wainwright and Jenkins – the starting trio in the win against Australia – fighting for two spots with the new boys.

The selection would have been even harder for Pivac had 85-times capped Tipuric returned in time from a shoulder injury suffered in the Lions’ pre-South Africa tour game against Japan.

“We won’t expect to see Justin in this tournament,” said Pivac. “He has been slower (in terms of recovery) than anyone would have anticipated or liked.

“The Justin I know will be working very hard to get back on the field as soon as he can but it certainly won’t be in this Six Nations.”