THE Dragons’ Wales World Cup stars are back – and ball-playing centre Aneurin Owen is determined to play to their strengths on his first competitive start in 20 months.

The Rodney Parade club bid for a shock United Rugby Championship win against Leinster tomorrow (kick-off 1.15pm) and they are boosted by their big guns.

The Dragons field an all-Wales back row of Dan Lydiate, Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright with hooker Elliot Dee and wing Rio Dyer also in the XV.

Some stellar names are back and so is Owen, who gets the nod at inside centre.

The 23-year-old from Newport possesses the distribution skills and ability to play to the line to cause Leinster problems, especially with the X-factor internationals alongside him.

South Wales Argus: Dragons centre Aneurin OwenDragons centre Aneurin Owen (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I love playing with Rio and back rowers, who are really good at carrying,” said Owen. “You just want to give them the ball in space, give them weak shoulders and one on ones, which sort of feeds into my game.

“The more chances you can give them the ball, the more opportunities they're going to create and that helps the team. It's just about feeding that as much as possible.”

Owen, whose impressive start to life at the Dragons led to Wales centre Nick Tomkins being benched, could well have been an international himself by now were it not for injury misfortune.

The centre was called up for the 2021 summer series games against Canada and Argentina and was earmarked as a player with potential to push into the World Cup conversation.

Alas, the talented back suffered a fractured ankle at Munster in March 2022, then had a hamstring problem, then suffered a serious left knee injury in a midfield collision off the ball against the Stormers last December.

South Wales Argus: BLOW: Dragons centre Aneurin Owen fractured his ankle at Munster then had hamstring and knee injuriesBLOW: Dragons centre Aneurin Owen fractured his ankle at Munster then had hamstring and knee injuries (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

He said: “Mentally that was probably one of the toughest periods because I worked really hard to get back and then you think ‘here we go again’.

“For something like that to happen and you're out for another six months, mentally was tough.

“But we have good physios here who got me through it and I am back now, so hopefully I’ll stay injury-free. I am just raring to go and so excited to play.”

Owen made his return with appearances off the bench for the Dragons against Ulster and the Scarlets plus games for Newport RFC in the Premiership.

Now he gets the nod as a starter alongside captain Steff Hughes for a clash against European heavyweights Leinster.

“These are the games you want to play because you're testing yourself against the best players in the league,” said Owen.

“They are all tough games but against teams like Leinster and Munster you really know you're going to be testing yourself.

“I know we are firmly underdogs but I really feel we can fire some shots, really frustrate them and upset them.”