AARON Wainwright wants to keep giving Wales boss Warren Gatland a headache all the way up to the final World Cup selection meeting after answering the SOS impressively against the Springboks.

On Friday the Dragons flanker was put on standby for the clash with South Africa because of an injury to former Rodney Parade favourite Dan Lydiate.

The Lions blindside failed to recover, leading to a bench spot for Wainwright and then an early introduction.

His Dragons teammate Ross Moriarty suffered a blow to the head and the back rower from Bassaleg was on after just 11 minutes to win his third cap.

Wainwright has taken numerous giant steps since making his Dragons debut in October of 2017 and made a gigantic one against the imposing Boks, his biggest challenge yet.

With his trademark industry and work rate, he didn't look out of place at Principality Stadium.

"On Friday morning he (Gatland) pulled me to one side and said that Lyds was struggling, you are going to be on the bench, make sure you know your roles," said the back row forward, who was playing for Cardiff Met the season before last.

"I was sat on the computer for about two hours to be sure I had everything pinned down and that I was ready to go.

"I didn't expect to go on so early but thankfully I had done my homework and learnt all the detail, so I just went on there to try and help the team perform.

"It was a massive step up and a really good experience. To get on against a tier one nation in a really physical game was good, I enjoyed it.

"South Africa were very physical – they have a big pack and when you see them go around the corner to carry off the 9 it isn't a pretty sight. I dug in, backed my technique and really enjoyed it."

Wales are blessed with back row options but Wainwright wants to keep putting himself in the mix with the Six Nations his next target, all with the ultimate aim of making the 31-man squad for Japan 2019.

"I do have to pinch myself every now and again but I just have to put my head down, keep working hard and take the chances when they come," said the flanker, who only started playing rugby aged 17 at Whiteheads and was rapidly picked up by the Dragons academy.

"The World Cup is my aim. I think that I have performed well when I have played (for Wales) and it's just about being consistent now.

"I want to keep sticking my hand up when chances do come about like against South Africa. The circumstances weren't the best for Dan and Ross, but for me it's just about playing well and contributing to the team.

"The World Cup is the end goal and if I keep playing well I can put my hand up for selection in the squad."

And regional form is vital for all of Gatland's hopefuls with Wainwright looking to use his November tips to thrive at the Dragons.

"The squad is looking strong with nine wins on the bounce," he said. "Everyone will go back to the regions and I just have to try to keep playing as I have and keep doing the things that they (the Wales coaches) are looking for.

"It's just the details – small details really do matter. When you are tired in the 70th minute, that's when you really need to step up.

"If I can just keep adding little things to my game then I will be in a good position for the Six Nations and World Cup."