LIONS hooker Ken Owens says the intensity of Dragons flanker Aaron Wainwright has made an impression on the Wales squad this autumn, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 21-year-old from Bassaleg, who only made in regional debut 13 months ago, won his second cap in last weekend’s thumping 74-24 win against Tonga at Principality.

The blindside made his international bow with a lively appearance off the bench in June’s first Test win against Argentina and earned the praise of head coach Warren Gatland for his work rate in San Juan.

Wainwright hit those standards again versus the Tongans, making a dynamic start to play a major role in tries for Dan Biggar and Liam Williams and ending with stats of seven carries and 14 tackles (none missed) in an 80-minute display.

Forwards coach Robin McBryde spoke last week of the young back rower catching the eye with his hunger in training and front rower Owens agrees.

“Aaron Wainwright is somebody I didn’t know a lot about, I met him on the summer tour but didn’t get to know him a lot then,” said the Scarlets hooker, who also picked out lock Adam Beard as one of the prospects to have impressed.

“But he’s really impressed me this campaign. He brings a lot of intensity, I thought he was outstanding last weekend.”

Nonetheless, Wainwright is an outsider to feature in the autumn finale against South Africa on Saturday.

Gatland names his side at midday with the back row trio of Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty set to be recalled with the Dragons prospect battling Ellis Jenkins, captain last week, to be the back-up.

Owens is a shoo-in at the heart of the front row as Wales hunt a fourth win from their last five meetings with the Springboks.

"South Africa are going to be a different beast again on Saturday, and we know how tough it's going to be," he said.

"I think they are a different side to what we've played over the last couple of years. I think Rassie Erasmus (head coach) has done a good job out there.

"He is pretty settled with his XV and he knows how he wants to play. They are a much-improved side and beat New Zealand in New Zealand - which is no mean feat."