WALES tighthead Leon Brown will make his first start of the season in the Dragons' key Challenge Cup clash with the Sharks on Sunday.

The 27-year-old from Newport comes into the XV for the fixture at Rodney Parade (kick-off 5.30pm) after being named in the Six Nations squad on Tuesday.

Brown, who has won 23 caps, has endured another injury-hit season with three appearances off the bench.

He was dropped for last week's trip to Zebre Parma after conceding four penalties at the scrum in the final quarter against the Scarlets on New Year's Day.

However, head coach Dai Flanagan has recalled the powerful prop for a daunting showdown with South Africa World Cup winner Ox Nche, the loosehead famous for his 'salads don't win scrums' mantra.

The Dragons' 20-17 loss in Parma leaves them needing to at least get a losing bonus against the Sharks to qualify for the last 16, with Saturday's games between Oyonnax and the Cheetahs and Pau and Zebre dictating exactly what they must do.

Head coach Dai Flanagan makes eight changes to the XV, six of them up front.

South Wales Argus: STARTER: Bradley Roberts is recalled by the Dragons to face the SharksSTARTER: Bradley Roberts is recalled by the Dragons to face the Sharks (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Former Sharks age-grade hooker and Durban native Bradley Roberts, tighthead Brown, locks Joe Davies and Matthew Screech, blindside Ryan Woodman and openside Ollie Griffiths come in.

Dane Blacker gets the nod at scrum-half while Steff Hughes is back to captain the side from outside centre.

Wales Six Nations squad member Taine Basham is recalled but has to be content with the role of impact sub.

He is joined on the bench by Joe Westwood, a powerful centre who could make his professional debut.

The 20-year-old, whose father Jon and grandfather Keith played for Newbridge, has returned from injury for Newport RFC in recent weeks.

Wales hooker Elliot Dee has recovered from a rib injury suffered in December but will not play before the Six Nations because of illness.

South Wales Argus: South Africa prop Ox NcheSouth Africa prop Ox Nche (Image: Press Association)

The Sharks head to Newport with the carrot of ensuring knockout rugby in Durban and field four World Cup winners in their XV – centre and captain Lukhanyo Am, wing Makazole Mapimpi, scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse and prop Nche.

Fellow Springbok Grant Williams covers 9 from the bench but legendary lock Eben Etzebeth doesn’t feature.

Dragons: Cai Evans; Rio Dyer, Steff Hughes (captain), Harri Ackerman, Jared Rosser; Will Reed, Dane Blacker; Rhodri Jones, Bradley Roberts, Leon Brown, Joe Davies, Matthew Screech, Ryan Woodman, Ollie Griffiths, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: James Benjamin, Rodrigo Martinez, Luke Yendle, George Young, Taine Basham, Rhodri Williams, Joe Westwood, Ewan Rosser.

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi; Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am (captain), Francois Venter, Makazole Mapimpi; Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse; Ox Nche, Fez Mbatha, Hanro Jacobs, Corne Rahl, Gerbrandt Grobler, James Venter, Lappies Labuschagne, Phepsi Buthelezi.

Replacements: Dan Jooste, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Coenie Oosthuizen, Le Roux Roets, Tinotenda Mavesere, Grant Williams, Lionel Cronje, Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Dragons unavailable (13): Gonzalo Bertranou (knee), Ben Carter (hamstring), Elliot Dee (illness), Jack Dixon (knock), Lloyd Fairbrother (calf), Ashton Hewitt (knee), Harri Keddie (elbow), Sean Lonsdale (knock), Dan Lydiate (ribs), George Nott (shoulder), Angus O’Brien (arm), Sio Tomkinson (neck), Josh Reynolds (pec).