AARON Wainwright has revealed Dragons team-mate Ross Moriarty is continually pushing the back-row stars of Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad to be at their very best in the fight for starting places.

Wainwright featured in the starting XV for Pivac’s first Six Nations game as head coach of the national team on Saturday, lining up alongside Justin Tipuric and ex-Dragons star Taulupe Faletau.

Moriarty had to settle for a place on the bench, which also included fellow Dragons Cory Hill and Leon Brown, with all three coming on during Wales’ emphatic 42-0 thrashing of Italy in Cardiff.

Number eight Faletau, who was making his international comeback after almost two years away from the Test arena due to injuries, was replaced by Moriarty 12 minutes into the second half.

The 25-year-old didn’t let the disappointment of missing out on a start affect him, Moriarty delivering a typically physical performance.

After the match, Wainwright was asked how Moriarty had been in the camp following the team announcement.

“He’s always looking to push us, whether he’s starting or not,” said the former Bassaleg School pupil.

“He’s a great trainer and he’s a great player, as we saw when he came on.

“He’s very competitive and loves to carry the ball. He’s a good person to have in the camp.”

On the back-row battle for jerseys,” he added: “We’ve got such depth in the back row, competition for places is massive.

“As I’ve said before, the boys push each other in training, and the more competitive we are, the better it’s going to make it on weekends.”

Wales, like the Dragons, are blessed with back row talent, and that was evident at Principality Stadium as Pivac’s men ran riot against Franco Smith’s lacklustre Italians.

Wainwright, 22, will be hoping to retain his place in the side for this weekend’s big clash with Ireland in Dublin.

And playing next to Faletau again is something Wainwright would love, having experienced it for the first time on Saturday.

“It was great,” he said. “It was the first time I’ve played with him and it was a good experience.

“He’s a brilliant player, you can see that in training and the games he’s played previously.

“To get a chance to play with him was great.”

Reflecting on the way Wales began the defence of their title, he said: “It’s a good marker for the start of the campaign, and hopefully we can keep that defensive record going for the rest of the tournament.

“We’re always building and looking to improve. We performed very well in defence and didn’t concede any points, so it’s something take forward.

“We can improve from how we played, little things didn’t go so well, but we’re looking to be very attacking and that’s something we’re going to be building on.”

He continued: “It’s a chance to win it (the Six Nations) again and stake our claim going forward for the next couple of years.

“It would be a great achievement if we did it again, but it is very early in the tournament.”