Aaron Wainwright’s new Dragons deal boost Wales ahead of Six Nations
Aaron Wainwright has handed Welsh rugby a major pre-Six Nations boost by agreeing a new contract with the Dragons.
The Wales back-row forward, who looks set to line up at number eight in next week’s Six Nations clash against Scotland, has agreed what the Dragons described as “a multi-year” deal.
The 26-year-old would undoubtedly have courted considerable interest elsewhere, given his Test experience of 43 caps and outstanding displays during the Rugby World Cup in France.
“Lots of positive conversations have gone on between Dai (Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan), myself and the club,” Wainwright said.
“I am looking forward to the next few years. I love the Dragons, I am a home boy.
“I love turning up to Rodney Parade, seeing fans out on the terraces, and that’s what I want to keep doing, turning up on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday and playing well, trying to make them happy.
“I am happy to have re-signed and I am excited to see what the next few years have to hold.”
Wainwright made his Wales debut in 2018 and he has developed into a player whose consistency of performance is an invaluable commodity for head coach Warren Gatland.
Only six players – and just two forwards – have more caps than him in Wales’ 34-strong Six Nations squad, and he is comfortably the senior back-row figure.
With Taulupe Faletau sidelined for the whole Six Nations, along with flanker and co-captain Jac Morgan, through injury, Wainwright will head up Gatland’s back-row resources.
A move from blindside flanker can be expected, unless Gatland hands uncapped Cardiff number eight Mackenzie Martin an opportunity and leaves Wainwright in the number six shirt.
“It is a fairly young group at the moment. It is definitely exciting, and it is about how we build on that,” Wainwright added.
“When I came in for my first campaign, some of the back rows in the squad – Tips (Justin Tipuric), Lyds (Dan Lydiate), Taulupe (Faletau) – it’s trying to be a figure to them like those boys were to me. I am just trying to be the best role model for them.
“I am not always the loudest of talkers. I hope to do it through my actions.
“We have been pushing each other in training, and everyone has fitted in well really quickly. We’ve only had three days of training, but information is being taken on really quickly.”
Scotland have not beaten Wales in Cardiff since 2002 – current head coach Gregor Townsend was their fly-half that day – losing 11 successive Tests in the Welsh capital.
But they have been strongly backed to end that sequence, particularly given Wales’ inexperience and the absence of players like Faletau, Morgan, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams and Dan Biggar.
The squad’s cap total is 735, but 438 of those appearances have been made by just seven players – Wainwright, Josh Adams, George North, Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Elliot Dee and Adam Beard.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.