AARON Wainwright is not content with a rapid rise to the World Cup squad – the Dragons flanker is focused on earning a start in Wales' tournament opener.

The 21-year-old from Bassaleg has been selected in Warren Gatland's 31-strong group for Japan less than two years after making his professional debut.

Wainwright got a first taste of Test rugby in Argentina last summer and has played in Wales' last 10 Tests.

He was back-up to the trio of Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty in the Six Nations Grand Slam but is now pushing them hard for a place in the XV against Georgia in the World Cup opener.

Wainwright started against England home and away and will line up at blindside flanker in the final warm-up against Ireland in Dublin tomorrow afternoon.

He joins forces with openside Tipuric and number eight Moriarty with Navidi among the replacements and flankers Aaron Shingler and James Davies in the stands.

South Wales Argus:

"After getting called up I am pretty head-down and focused now," he said. "There are six back row forwards in the squad and there is massive competition.

"That will push us all hard in training and there will be a real competitive edge. I want to train and play well, then see what happens in the World Cup.

"With so many back rowers, our role is to push the others if they are starting. Those not involved have a big role to play in training so that whoever starts is in the best possible condition to play.

"I am glad that Warren has selected me to start this summer and I think that my performances have showed that he can trust me.

"I think that I have done well and want to carry that on now, all working towards that first game."

To most, Wainwright was a World Cup certainty but the flanker feared the worst when he was watching the squad being revealed on his mobile phone.

He was sat in a restaurant car park before a trip to Cardiff Devils with his Dragons teammates and his heart sank when he saw other players being read out by representatives from their first clubs.

South Wales Argus:

"I was very nervous because they announced it in alphabetical order," said Wainwright.

"At the start of the campaign Gats said that they'd be taking five back rowers, so I was watching it and there was James Davies, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric.

"I was thinking flipping hell but then my best mate popped up on screen, said my name and it was a happy days! But my heart was in my mouth."

The rise of Wainwright has been well documented and he appreciated those who have helped him turn from rugby novice to Wales star in the space of four years.

"It's gone quite quickly and every time I go home my parents talk about how much I have achieved. I am enjoying it and trying to soak it all in," he said.

"It's been a hell of a journey, I've had a lot of messages but I've also said thank you to coaches who have helped me get to where I am.

"(Dragons academy manager) James Chapron messaged me and I said thanks to him, Gwesyn Price Jones and Justin Thomas (both from his time at Bassaleg School), while Bernard Jackman sent me a message.

"Everything has happened quickly but I just want to keep pushing on."