DRAGONS tighthead Leon Brown faces another battle with his former Wales Under-20s teammate Dillon Lewis as the scramble for places in Warren Gatland’s World Cup squad intensifies.

The duo joined forces when helping the Welsh youngsters win a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016, Cardiff Blues prospect Lewis starting and Brown adding impact from the bench.

Lewis, 22, was the first to be capped at a senior level when he played against Tonga and Samoa last summer but the Dragons man appeared to have moved ahead of his rival last season.

The 21-year-old from Maesglas was called up by Gatland for the autumn series and won his first cap as a replacement against Australia, started versus Georgia and came off the bench again versus New Zealand.

However, a concussion suffered against the All Blacks and then a toe injury against the Southern Kings in the Guinness PRO14 means that he is working hard at the Dragons’ Ystrad Mynach training base with the aim of starting 2018/19 strongly rather than taking on South Africa and Argentina this month.

Lewis, meanwhile, has grasped his opportunity to put the pressure on established tightheads Samson Lee and Tomas Francis.

With Gatland mulling over how many specialist props he will take to Japan 2019, the Blues front rower’s timing is impeccable.

"Boys like myself have definitely got World Cup selection in mind especially with the World Cup just around the corner," he said.

"The coaches have got one eye on the competition and it's great for boys like myself to have this exposure to put our hands up for the World Cup.

"For me it's massively beneficial now to have this exposure and work underneath the coaches. They can get an idea of what you are like as a player.

"It's 15 months away from a World Cup so these games can be a big factor in selection."

Lewis has long been highly-rated but has endured frustration at club level, partly due to injury.

But he has been strong at the set piece against the Springboks and Pumas while his efforts in defence in last week’s 23-10 win in San Juan would have earned praise from defence coach Shaun Edwards.

The prop hopes to get another crack at Argentina in Santa Fe on Saturday (kick-off 8.40pm).

"If someone told before I went away that I would start two games I would have told them that they were talking rubbish," said Lewis.

"It would be a massive achievement for me to get a third start against Argentina. For me I go into the games just trying to do as best as I can.

"I'd like to think that I've out my hand up for next week. From a personal point of view I've had a lot of frustrations throughout the season with injuries and a lack of game time.

"Coming into this environment you've just got to try and take on board as much as you can as quickly as you can.

“There's not a lot of time for thinking and you are chucked in at the deep end. To be around these coaches and these experienced players is priceless especially a young and inexperienced tighthead like myself."