DRAGONS lock Ben Carter was denied a place in Wales’ matchday squad to face Australia by a minor injury blow suffered in training.

The 23-year-old from Caldicot put in an impressive performance alongside Rodney Parade teammate Matthew Screech in the warm-up Test against South Africa at Twickenham.

Wales were beaten 41-13 but the Dragons duo went toe-to-toe with imposing Springboks greats Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert.

However, neither will feature in the first Test against the Wallabies in Sydney after head coach Warren Gatland opted for the Exeter duo of Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins, who were unavailable for the South Africa game, with former Dragons captain Cory Hill on the bench.

Gatland revealed that Carter, who won his 12th cap against the Boks, was set to be involved this weekend only to suffer a minor injury.

BLOW: Dragons and Wales lock Ben CarterBLOW: Dragons and Wales lock Ben Carter

"Initially, our thoughts this week were that he was going to be involved in the 23 but he picked up a stinger in training on Tuesday," said the head coach. "We assessed him this morning (Thursday) and ruled him out of the 23.”

That means a return to the Test stage for Hill, who has been playing in the lower leagues in Japan. His last cap was against France in the 2021 Six Nations.

Opportunity knocks in the second row with Will Rowlands rested and Adam Beard, Rhys Davies and Seb Davies injured.

There is also a chance to impress at tighthead with Bath’s Archie Griffin making his first Test start in Sydney, where he was born.

CHANCE: Wales prop Archie Griffin in training during the Six NationsCHANCE: Wales prop Archie Griffin in training during the Six Nations (Image: PA)

Gatland has admitted that it has been a problem position as they look for a long-term successor for Tomas Francis, who has not retired but has been playing in France’s Pro D2 with Provence.

Harri O’Connor, who is on the bench, and Dillon Lewis, not fit for this weekend, are the other tightheads in the squad.

Dragons prop Leon Brown, Henry Thomas and Keiron Assiratti missed the tour through injury.

"It's one position we're probably the most exposed at," said Gatland. "We just haven't had a consistent tighthead who is playing week in, week out.

“The last one was probably Tomas Francis, but we need to get someone on the field and develop some experience.

"Archie is explosive and technically excellent. Unfortunately in the Six Nations he picked up an injury right at the start. It's good to see him back and we would just like to see him play some more rugby."

He faces a stern challenge against James Slipper, who wins his 135th cap.