DRAGONS tighthead prop Leon Brown will make his first Test start since 2021 in Wales' Six Nations opener against Scotland.

The powerful front rower has got the nod for the XV in Saturday's Principality Stadium clash along Rodney Parade clubmates Aaron Wainwright and Rio Dyer at number eight and wing respectively.

Dragons hooker Elliot Dee, who hasn't played since December 9 after suffering a rib injury, is among the replacements.

Back rower Taine Basham and full-back/fly-half Cai Evans miss out on the matchday squad for round one against the Scots.

Brown gets a rare starting chance at tighthead – just three of his previous 23 caps have been with 3 on his back, the last against Argentina in the summer of 2021 – after being hindered by injuries in recent seasons.

South Wales Argus: Leon Brown on the charge for Wales on his full debut against Georgia in 2017Leon Brown on the charge for Wales on his full debut against Georgia in 2017

The 27-year-old from Newport, who is out of contract this summer and has been linked with Bristol, has failed to hit double figures for Dragons appearances in three of the last four campaigns and is currently on four for 2023/24.

Nonetheless, his dynamism around the park means he has been a regular in Wales squads when fit and his experience means he gets the nod ahead of Cardiff’s Keiron Assiratti, who is on the bench, and uncapped Bath prop Archie Griffin.

Brown joins forces with hooker Ryan Elias and loosehead Corey Domachowski with the Dragons man's scrummaging in the spotlight.

He struggled off the bench against the Scarlets on New Year's Day, giving away four penalties after coming on for the final quarter, but then produced the goods against the Sharks last time out when up against formidable South Africa World Cup winner Ox Nche.

“We’ve been really happy with the way they’ve trained this week. They’ve scrummaged well," said head coach Warren Gatland.

"It’s a big front row we’re putting out there. Leon Brown is 138 kilograms, Corey Domachowski is 125 kilograms and Ryan Elias is 115 kilograms. We’ve been happy with how they’ve trained and prepared.”

Wales hand a debut to in-form Cardiff full-back Cameron Winnett while Owen Watkin makes his first Test appearance since November 2022 in the absence of the injured George North.

Gatland has suffered another blow with the absence of former Dragons captain Will Rowlands, now with Racing 92.

“Will hasn’t come into the squad yet. His wife had a baby a couple of weeks ago in France and unfortunately there were some complications," said the head coach.

"So the message to him has been you stay home and be with your family. We always talk about how important that is and he’ll turn up when he’s ready.”

South Wales Argus: DEBUT: Cam Winnett starts for Wales against ScotlandDEBUT: Cam Winnett starts for Wales against Scotland (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – uncapped / heb gap)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 54 caps)
13. Owen Watkin (Ospreys / Gweilch – 36 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens / Saraseniaid – 32 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons / Dreigiau – 14 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 8 caps)
9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 74 caps)
1. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 6 caps)
2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 38 caps)
3. Leon Brown (Dragons / Dreigiau – 23 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs / Caerwysg – 12 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys / Gweilch – 51 caps)
6. James Botham (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 9 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers / Caerlŷr –  13 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons / Dreigiau – 43 caps)


16. Elliot Dee (Dragons / Dreigiau – 46 caps)
17. Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets – 1 cap)
18. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 2 caps)
19. Teddy Williams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 1 cap)
20. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – uncapped / heb gap)
21. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 53 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 2 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 6 caps)