AARON Wainwright is learning from the best in his bid to thrive as a number eight for the Dragons.

The 23-year-old from Bassaleg burst onto the scene as an all-action flanker with his exploits earning a rapid rise to become a Grand Slam winner and World Cup star with Wales.

The departure of Warren Gatland and arrival of Wayne Pivac has led to a change of role – the current national boss sees Wainwright as a number eight.

The Dragon was man of the match in the Autumn Nations Cup win against Georgia but had to settle for being an impact sub against Ireland, England and Italy.

That was because of the form of Taulupe Faletau – arguably the greatest ever Dragon.

The Lions star from Pontypool may be a rival, but he has also helped his Rodney Parade successor settle in his new position.

South Wales Argus: Wales back rower Aaron WainwrightWales back rower Aaron Wainwright

“We would do our extras after training and our little work-on skills. I would pick his brains about how he adapted to things in different situations at the back of the scrum,” said Wainwright, who will be in the back row against the Ospreys on Saturday evening.

“For him to share that knowledge and experience with me was great for my learning. He’s one of the best, if not the best No 8 in the game.

“That chance to work with him and see how he deals with different scenarios and situations was great.”

South Wales Argus:

The shift is designed to make the most of Wainwright’s dynamism in the open field with Pivac wanting his blindside to be abrasive like Ross Moriarty and Shane Lewis-Hughes.

“What he was saying is he wants a 6 to be a big, physical, defensive sort of prominent figure and sees me more as coming off the base as a number eight with my footwork and speed.

“That was his thinking behind it and what he explained to me. From what he’s said, I can see where he’s coming from and, if I fit into his gameplan, I am more than happy to play at number eight. I think it will suit me quite well.”

In Dragons colours, the graft comes from in-form Harri Keddie with the responsibility on Wainwright’s shoulders to provide dynamism growing in the absence of the injured Ollie Griffiths and Taine Basham.

They welcome the Ospreys to Newport on the back of defeats to Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets in which they failed to cross the try line and have barely landed a blow.

South Wales Argus:

“Defensively as a team we have been getting better, we were pretty solid against the Blues defensively and against the Scarlets,” said Wainwright.

“This week we have just been trying to get our attacking game going a bit more. If we can do that on the then we will probably see a different result from the past two games.

“Hopefully we can set a good platform for the backs and for us to get around the park and carry hard. If we can do that then we will be in a good place.

“It’s going to be a tough game and like the previous two derbies it will be very close encounter.”

Keddie and Wainwright are likely to be joined in the back row by either Lewis Evans or Huw Taylor with director of rugby Dean Ryan naming his team at midday on Friday.