DRAGONS talisman Aaron Wainwright intends to lead through his actions when he takes to the Twickenham field as Wales' most experienced forward against South Africa.

Warren Gatland’s men are huge underdogs for tomorrow's London encounter with the world champions (kick-off 2pm), with one leading bookmaker pricing them +20 in the handicap.

The Springboks have gone very strong ahead of their mouth-watering summer Tests against Ireland while Wales, who are preparing for Australia, have a long list of absentees.

That leads to number eight Wainwright, at the age of 26, being the forward with the most caps.

He has played 48 times and, barring injury, will bring up his half century against the Wallabies in Sydney, with loosehead Gareth Thomas, on 30, second in the caps chart.

Of the 13 forwards in the matchday squad, eight are yet to hit double figures for international outings.

Wing Liam Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies, who is on the bench, are the only players to have experienced more games for Wales than Wainwright, who will be expected to step up in the pressure moments against the Boks.

INFLUENTIAL: Dragons number eight Aaron Wainwright needs a big display against South Africa for WalesINFLUENTIAL: Dragons number eight Aaron Wainwright needs a big display against South Africa for Wales (Image: PA)

"That is just the way it is working out at the moment,” said the dynamic Dragons forward on the prospect of being an elder statesman.

“I haven't really read into that too much, I am just trying to concentrate on my own job for the weekend and hopefully pull the boys along with me in the game.

"If I can lead on the pitch, I will. I am not the biggest of speakers off the pitch, but hopefully my actions can help guide us on the weekend.”

Wainwright has locked horns with South Africa on four occasions after he was famously close to a debut in the 2018 win in Washington, when he was on the side ready to come on when the clock went into the red.

It will be a surprise if the 26-year-old from Bassaleg notches a second success but he is relishing the test.

" Being able to improve and test yourself against the beat team in the world is an exciting challenge. All the boys are up for it,” he said.

“There are a lot of big names playing for them. Hopefully, we can get stuck into the game nice and early and put our mark on them.”

"It is a challenge,” he continued. “If we want to get better, this is the game to test ourselves and find out where we can get better.

“We have talked a lot about being brave and us being the aggressors in the game and being confident. I think if we start well, it will set us up for the rest of the game.

"If I was one of those guys coming in for the first time, I would just try and get myself into the game nice and early, be confident, put your hand up and try to make something happen.”