WALES boss Warren Gatland has challenged Dragons stalwart Matthew Screech to become a World Cup contender after giving the lock a daunting assignment against South Africa.

The 31-year-old will win his second cap – and first as a Dragon – when lining up against the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday.

Screech will make his first international start alongside 12-times capped club teammate Ben Carter and the pair are up against a pair of Test giants.

South Africa have named the heavyweight duo of legend Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, double World Cup winners with a combined tally of 192 international appearances, in the boilerhouse.

The Dragons pair have their chance in the absence of Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Rhys Davies and Teddy Williams.

Screech, fresh from a move to Cardiff from Rodney Parade, was capped by Wayne Pivac as a replacement against Argentina in the summer of 2021.

Now the stalwart has a shot at impressing Gatland and earning a spot in the touring party to face Australia in two July Tests, then the chance to stay in the mix for next season.

CHANCE: Dragons lock Matthew Screech will make a first Test start for Wales against South AfricaCHANCE: Dragons lock Matthew Screech will make a first Test start for Wales against South Africa (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

"Matthew has come in with us on a couple of occasions and we have been impressed by the way he has trained,” said the head coach.

"He has been around for a while, has had that experience and if I was him I would be thinking about going out and making a bit of a statement in terms of the way that I prepare and play, then hopefully I can be around the squad for the next couple of years.

“Thirty-one is not old for a tight forward, I look at it as a good age and would like to think players still think they will be young enough and fit enough for the next World Cup if they work and train hard enough.

"I hope it's part of his motivation to go out there, put his hand up and play well.”

Screech hasn’t been part of a side that has beaten South African opposition since the Dragons’ 13-10 triumph against the Cheetahs in February 2020.

It would be a huge shock if that changes in London and the 6ft 5ins lock will need to produce a big display along with Carter to make a game of it.

Wales head coach Warren GatlandWales head coach Warren Gatland (Image: PA)

“He looks physically in good shape and has done a good job in the set piece,” said Gatland.

“I have spoken to the two second rows in terms of the expectations. They know how physical the game will be and that's part of the role for the weekend, embracing the physical challenge that is going to come their way.

“If they do that and focus on the set-piece that's all I can ask for. There is a big chance for them to show us where they are at.”

Four Dragons start with wing Rio Dyer and number eight Aaron Wainwright aiming to build on strong Six Nations campaigns.

Hooker Elliot Dee, who missed the end of the United Rugby Championship with an ankle injury, does not feature at Twickenham with Evan Lloyd backing up captain Dewi Lake.