WALES prop Leon Brown is reaping the rewards of regular rugby after his World Cup disappointment, believes Dragons forwards coach Ceri Jones.

The 23-year-old from Newport, who won his sixth cap against Ireland in August, has reacted strongly to the anguish of missing the cut for Japan 2019.

Brown has started all six games of the Guinness PRO14 and is set to be the cornerstone of the scrum against a heavy Castres pack in tomorrow's European Challenge Cup opener (kick-off 3pm).

The tighthead has been tipped for the top since making his Dragons debut in 2016 but his progress has been hindered by injury.

Brown started the season with just 28 regional appearances under his belt but he has played in 402 minutes of a possible 480.

That time in the middle - and especially in the scrum - has helped him to make great strides, according to his boss.

South Wales Argus:

"It's nice to see Leon developing," said Jones, who won two Wales caps and made 231 appearances in the Harlequins front row.

"We are fortunate I suppose that Wales chose not to take him to the World Cup, so we have had him for a longer period.

"That's been huge for Leon and something that he has missed in the past, everyone can see how well he is developing from having a run of games

"He is still young – we don't think of him that way, but he is – and it has taken this run of games to know exactly where he is at.

"Leon is gaining in confidence week in, week out from playing more and more games. It's really good for him and that whole side of our game is developing nicely.

"The defence of the drive was firmly tested by Edinburgh last week and we stood up really well, while I don't think we are too far away with our own drive."

The Dragons' tight game will be put under pressure by Castres, who travel with a strong pack despite making changes from their Top14 win against Brive last weekend.

The 2013 and 2018 French champions have left the likes of Rory Kockott, Christophe Samson and captain Baptiste Delaporte at home because avoiding the drop is their priority.

However, Jones expects a typically direct French approach, regardless of the line-up.

South Wales Argus:

"We had a pretty good precursor last week because that was pretty much an arm wrestle," said Jones, referring to the 20-7 loss at Edinburgh.

"Castres are a 70 per cent drive team and last week Edinburgh were a 74 per cent drive team – we know that they are going to come heavy and we know that they have a big forward pack.

"That's exactly what we faced at Murrayfield and a couple of times this year, I think we are getting better in that area but also know we have to move the ball around a bit as well.

"You have to physically match them and dominate in certain areas, then of course you want to be able to expand your game and play a bit."

The teams are announced at midday.